Historic Lahaina

Banyan Tree

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Bold faced print is reproduced from the Lahaina Historical Guide with permission from the publisher.  Copyright 1998, Honolulu Publishing Company, Ltd.   All rights reserved.   Free copies of the Lahaina Historical Guide are available throughout Lahaina Town and the Kā`anapali resorts.

 

 

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The banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) came to Lahaina from India when it was only 8 feet tall.   William O. Smith was Maui sheriff when he planted it in 1873 at a service marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of Lahaina's first Christian mission.

As the little town that was once the capital of the Hawaiian kingdom and the whaling capital of the world developed, the little tree grew and grew.   It provided a leisurely setting where local sugar mill employees and pineapple workers could meet and conduct business.   

It was also the scene of many a political rally, luau, dance, concert, festival and celebration.   For years it shaded viewers at the elementary school's May Day festivities, whaling sprees and Aloha Week observances.   Some residents still recall swinging Tarzan-like on the aerial roots (and being swatted with a rake by the caretaker).   

Lahaina's banyan now has 12 major trunks of varying girth, besides the huge core of central trunks.   It reaches upward to a height of about 50 feet and stretches outward over a 200-foot area, shading two-thirds of an acre on the almost 2 acres of land in the courthouse square. 

Next is the Courthouse.

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