Two years ago, Mr. Handsome and I visited the majestic redwoods along the West Coast and were blown away by their impressive height. Many were so tall that standing underneath them and looking up only provided a view of the bottom half of the tree. Earlier this spring, we came face-to-face with yet another unique tree: the banyan tree.
While redwoods are famous for their height, banyan trees are known for their massive canopies and their unique root systems. The largest ones can take up a space of a few acres! During our vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii, we walked along iconic Banyan Drive in Hilo (the east side of the island), which is lined with a handful of banyan trees.
The oldest banyan tree in Hawaii is the Lahaina Banyan, planted on Maui in 1873 as a gift from Indian missionaries. While the banyan trees along the Big Island’s Banyan Drive are not quite as old, they were planted by notable individuals, including Amelia Earhart, Richard Nixon, FDR, Babe Ruth, and King George V.
Amelia Earhart planted her banyan tree on January 6th, 1935, just a few days before embarking on a journey that made her the first pilot to fly solo from Hawaii to San Francisco. It was only two years later that Earhart went missing. Nixon’s tree was planted during his visit to the island in 1952, while he was a California senator. Ironically, his tree was destroyed during an election year storm. In 1972, his wife, then the first lady, returned to Hilo to plant two new banyan trees in its place.
This banyan tree isn’t as large as some of the others, but we found its root system to be pretty neat. The black rock is lava rock.
And here’s another smaller, but still beautiful, tree with my Mr. Handsome standing under it…