This is the famous fig tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment, and is sacred to Hindus and Jains, as well as to Buddhists. The tree can grow very large, up to 30m tall.
The peepal tree (Ficus religiosa) has many traditional medicinal uses, from asthma to diabetes, gastric and genitourinary problems. In Ayurvedic medicine the bark is the most important part of the tree, but leaves, latex, fruits and seeds are also used. The latex in particular is valuable as a fungicide.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the East India Company controlled much of the Indian subcontinent. Keen to exploit and export valuable natural commodities, the Company set out to record the flora of India and commissioned Indian artists to create detailed botanical illustrations. Many of the plants were known through their use in Ayurvedic medicine. One of the world’s oldest medicinal systems, it has been practised in India for 3,000 years.
Company School style paintings became popular with wealthy Europeans. It was not uncommon for East India Company officials (who were not employed as medics or botanists) to build their own personal collections of paintings depicting Indian flora and fauna. We cannot be sure how local amateur botanist Richard Cresswell came by this collection of 86 Company School works. It is possible Henry Creighton commissioned them during his time as a judge in Calcutta and that on his death the works came back to the UK with his daughter Frances who later married Richard Cresswell.
HERB. MUS. EXON CRESSWELL COLLECTION 19/1927; No 83 Ficus religiosa Linn Bur Tree P.T.O.; “Bur” or “Bor” is Ficus bengalenis but the leaves of this are rather of Ficus religiosa Linn It is rather a diagramatic than a true picture of either it is not the first named