Ruling the courthouse square in downtown Lahaina is one of the most remarkable trees to ever lay eyes on. One quarter of a mile in circumference, its snake like limbs stretch outward, spreading a vast network of branches, leaves and aerial roots towards the streets and buildings surrounding it. An extraordinary tree that seems like something out of a movie leaving many people wondering if it is all truly one tree, or even real? How did this giant Banyan tree come to lay its roots in this tiny port of Lahaina town? Keep reading, and I will share the history of Lahaina’s famous banyan tree with you.
History of the Lahaina Banyan Tree
Dating back to April 24, 1873, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first Protestant mission in Lahaina, which was started at the request of Queen Keōpūolani, the sacred wife and widow of King Kamehameha the Great, Sheriff William Owen Smith planted the exotic Indian Banyan.
At the time, it stood only 8 feet tall.
How it Grew
Once the tree was rooted in, it slowly sent branches outward from its trunk. From the branches came many different types of roots, some descending from above ground down towards the earth. Certain roots actually hit the ground and dug in, growing larger and larger until eventually forming trunks of their own!
Lahaina residents adorned this banyan tree and encouraged the symmetrical growth of the tree by hanging large glass jars filled with water on the roots that the wanted to eventually grow trunks.
The tree that was once just a tiny sapling, has now turned into a monument.
Today, the Lahaina Banyan tree is the largest banyan in the United States, standing over 60 feet tall with 46 major trunks and shades. This tree shades about two-thirds of an acre, wow! The Maui County Arborist Committee carefully maintains this tree watching its health and shape closely. In its honor, the courthouse park has been renamed “Banyan Tree Park”. The Lahaina Restoration Foundation cares for the parks grounds.
Banyan Tree Park
You may be wondering, well, what is there to do in Lahaina at this banyan tree? This is a very nice place to sit back and relax beneath the large canopy. Lahaina can be very hot most days, and this tree provides tons of shade with benches beneath it! You will find the banyan tree at the end of Front Street. After a long day of shopping and eating, this is a nice place to end up for some fun photos! The long beautiful roots make for very cool backgrounds. On the weekends, you will find local artists and crafters that set up their tables to display and sell their work from 9-5pm. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to hear music or see a hula dance on the stage in the park!
Now that you are familiar with the history of Lahaina’s famous banyan tree, you will probably be eager to see it while you are visiting Maui. Belle Surf Cafe is located right across the street from this tree! If you are craving a coffee, food or refreshment, come check us out! 640 Front Street.