The Banyan tree or Strangler Fig (Ficus strangulosa), twists its solid vines over a host tree until the host tree dies, and all that remains is the Banyan ‘tree’.
As it matures it puts out aerial prop roots that eventually become new Banyan trees, and can take over a sizeable section of any forest like this Banyan tree in Laos.Here you can see the ‘Strangler’ Fig in the process of strangling the host tree beneath.
Although Banyans are generally huge, in Vietnam someone managed to make a Banyan bonsai, probably using Ficus benjamina (another species of fig), as several species of fig have similar growth habits, twining around themselves under the right circumstances.
Banyan fallen into the lake in Hanoi, and not having any problem surviving.
The twisting vines sometimes look surreal.
A mid-size Banyan growing in Hanoi. They can get huge in a more suitable habitat.
Banyans thrive in Southeast Asia and India. While the above were all taken in Vietnam, this gold-painted tree with an altar is from Mandalay in Myanmar and may not be a Banyan but its close relative, the Bodhi Tree or Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa). The difference is easily seen in the leaves – the Banyan has leathery oval leaves and the Bodhi more delicate heart-shaped ones. Banyans roots enveloping the ruins at Angkor Wat create mystery and the feel of the jungle taking over. But I am wondering how they will control the trees as they will eventually destroy the ruins.
For more on this challenge: Cees Fun Foto Challenge: Leaves and Trees.