Anyway, I left a comment that two of my favorite banyans were the 125 year old tree in Lahaina, Maui, that covers an entire block providing shade for the whole park, and one in Taveuni Estates that has a 1920's era steam tractor tangled in its roots and trunk. An anonymous blogger asked if I had any photos of the tractor and if so would I post them. So here we are.
Taveuni Estates is a residential development on the west coast of Taveuni island, Fiji, where we plan to build our next home. The tree is in a large grassy area next to the marina. The estates occupies part of what used to be a coconut plantation called Soqulu (pronounced song-goo-loo). A village within the development houses the workers, and their families, who maintain the estates. On sunny days, they often come down to picnic on the grass, dry laundry and work on handicrafts while the kids enjoy swimming and playing in the marina.
Although Soqulu is no longer producing copra, many of the trees still populate the slopes. Further south, Taveuni still has some very large producing copra farms.
The tractor - or what is left of it. The boiler is gone, but all four wheels, the frame, engine and flywheel are still there. It isn't very big, the flywheel is about 3 ft or 1 meter in diameter. You can see the cylinder and the crank shaft that connects the piston to the drive shaft and flywheel.
The tree has sent roots around and through the flywheel and frame and is gradually "swallowing" the tractor. Banyans, as you can read on Babasiga, grow by sending roots down from the branches. After taking hold in the ground, the roots thicken and become trunks that add support to the long heavy branches. Not shown in this picture is a metal ring about two feet in diameter which is laying flat on the ground with part of the tree growing right through the middle.
On the side of the engine is the name of the manufacturer. I forget off hand who it was, but I looked it up after I first saw it and it turned out to be a company in England that built steam tractors in the 1920s.
This old photo shows what a fully functional steam tractor looked like.
Looking at the picture of the roots, I am reminded of an old low budget sci-fi thriller, "The Crawling Eye", in which giant eyeballs from outer space attacked people with long tentacles that looked something like these roots. I wonder how many more decades it will take for the tree to completely surround the old machine. Arrrg! It's got me!