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Sacred Bo Tree – Sakon Nakhon

When visiting Sakon Nakhon temples, and traveling the highways of the province, you will occasionally see a large Bo Tree. The Bo Tree is a sacred Fig tree (Ficus Religiosa), and the most revered tree in Thailand.

Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment under a Bo Tree, while Hindus believe that Lord Vishnu was born under this tree. Many Thais also believe that the sacred Fig tree is inhabited by spirits and lost souls.

Seen most frequently at Buddhist temples in Thailand and along residential areas of highways, Bo Trees are usually wrapped in colorful ribbons, and often have a Spirit House placed at the base of the tree. Jars with incense sticks and broken Buddhist figurines are also frequently placed at the foot of the tree, because it is unlucky to throw holy figurines away.

These holy trees can grow up to 30 meters tall, with trunks 3 meters in diameter. They are not used for lumber and are rarely cut down. If a tree is diseased or needs to be cut down for some other reason, special permission needs to be granted, and a blessing ceremony performed by monks.

Sacred Bo Trees should not be confused with Banyan Trees in Sakon Nakhon. Banyan Trees are a different type of Ficus tree classified as Ficus Benghalensis. They are seen most often in Sakon Nakhon national forests, and go by the nickname “Saint of the Forest,” as well as “Killer of the Jungle”.

Sacred Fig Tree Thailand
Sacred Bo Tree at the temple grounds of Wat Ban Lao Po Daeng in Sakon Nakhon.
Holy Fig Tree in Thailand
Sacred Fig Tree at Tambon Phang Khwang roadside in Sakon Nakhon.
Holy Bo Tree in Thailand
Sacred Bo Tree on the temple grounds of Wat Suphat Chaiyaram in Sakon Nakhon.
David Alan