There are several Banyan trees on the Edison-Ford Winter Estates property in Ft Myers including one that is supposed to be the largest in the U.S.. Thomas Edison experimented with many plants and trees to test them for their chemical properties and industrial applications. He was looking for a source of rubber from plants and trees and he used the Banyan tree, Lofty Fig and others to see if he could extract enough resin to be used for rubber. The automobile industry was taking off and Edison wanted to supply it with products from his trees. The Banyan tree unfortunately did not live up to its expectations along with his other trees and he abandoned his efforts to cultivate his trees for this purpose.
The tree grows or spreads out by dropping shoots or branches to the ground which take hold and form new trunks or foundations of the tree. You can see from the photo the vertical trunks that seem to drop from the upper branches to the ground. The tree can grow to be very large and this one covers several acres of land. There is a statue of Thomas Edison on the other side of this tree posing in front of the Banyan.
The Banyan tree is native to India and gets its name from a term used for traders or travelers who used the tree for shade. The Banyan tree is part of the ficus or fig family of trees and they can start as an air plant or seed growing in a crevice of a tree and then growing and spreading out until it takes over its host tree. There are many other plants and trees on the Edison property which Edison experimented with. The photo next to the Banyan tree is a Lofty Fig tree with an air plant growing on it. The Bing website of images has a good collection of pictures of Banyan trees.