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The Indian fig1 bears but a small fruit. Always growing spontaneously, it spreads far and wide with its vast branches, the ends of which bend downwards into the ground to such a degree, that they take fresh root in the course of a year, and thus form a new plantation around the parent stock, traced in a circular form, just as though it had been the work of the ornamental gardener. Within the bowers thus formed, the shepherds take up their abode in the summer, the space occupied by them being, at once, overshadowed and protected by the bulwark which the tree thus throws around; a most graceful sight, whether we stand beneath and look upwards, or whether we view its arcaded foliage from a distance. The higher branches, however, shoot upwards to a very considerable height, and, by their number, form quite a grove, spring ing aloft from the vast trunk of the parent tree, which overspreads, very frequently, a space of sixty paces in extent, while the shade that is thrown by it will cover as much as a couple of stadia. The broad leaves of the tree have just the shape of an Amazonian buckler; and hence it is that the fruit, from being quite covered by the leaves, is greatly impeded in its growth. The fruit, indeed, of this tree is but scanty, and never exceeds a bean in size; being ripened, however, by the rays of the sun, as these penetrate the leaves, the figs are remarkable for their singular lusciousness, and are quite worthy of the marvellous tree by which they are produced. These fig-trees are found, more particularly, in the vicinity of the river Acesines.2

1 This account of the Ficus Indica, or religiosa, known to us as the banian-tree, is borrowed entirely from Theophrastus. Fée remarks, however, that he is wrong in some of his statements, for that the leaves are not crescent-shaped, but oblong and pointed, and that the fruit has not a pleasant flavour, and is only eaten by the birds.

2 See B. vi. c. 23.

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