Perhaps the most holy tree in the world lies in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is known as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and is a sacred fig tree. At 2,302 years old, it is the oldest human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date. It is a sapling of the Bodhi tree (pictured above), or the tree under which Buddha received enlightenment. It is protected from the weather and from animals by other fig trees that surround it as well by a stonewall and a more modern iron fence. Over the years several branches have been felled by storms and one brazen individual even cut down a branch in 1929. In 1985 the Tamil Tiger separatist group massacred a number of pilgrims worshiping at the site in what is known as the Anuradhapura Massacre.

The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is said to be the left branch of the Bodhi Tree. This tree is standing in Bodh Gaya, India at the Mahabodhi Temple. A shrine has been erected on the spot when Buddha sat for seven days before receiving enlightenment and was erected even during Buddha’s lifetime. The tree has been cut down several times, first by Queen Tissarakkhā in the 200s BC when she became jealous that her husband revered the tree more than her. It was cut down again a few years later and then again around 600 AD but each time a new tree grew in its place. In 1876 the tree was dying and was destroyed in a storm. Five years later Alexander Cunningham, who was performing an archaeological survey of India planted a new one. Bodhi Day is celebrated on December 8 to mark the day that Buddha achieved enlightenment.

There are other saplings of the Bodhi tree that have been taken around the world. The Ananda Bodhi was planted at the gateway of the Jetavana Monastery in India and came from the original Bodhi Tree sometime around 245 BC. The younger Bodhi trees have offspring in Honolulu, Hawaii, Chennai, India, and Thousand Oaks, California.