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Balete tree from the forest of the Philippines

Balete tree (also known as balite or baliti) are several species of the trees in the Philippines from the genus Ficus that are broadly referred to as balete in the local language. A number of these are known as strangler figs wherein they start upon other trees, later entrapping them entirely and finally killing the host tree. Also called hemiepiphytes, initially, they start as epiphytes or air plants and grow several hanging roots that eventually touch the ground and from then on, encircling and suffocating the host tree. Some of the baletes produce an inferior quality of rubber. The India rubber plant, F. elastica were earlier cultivated to some extent for rubber. Some of the species like tangisang-bayawak or Ficus variegata are large and could probably be utilized for match woods. The woods of species of Ficus are soft, light, and of inferior quality, and the trees usually have ill-formed, short boles.[1]

List of species which shares the common name of Balete[edit]

Ornamental use[edit]

Baletes are planted as graceful trees along avenues in Manila and other large cities in the Philippines, and they are also excellent as shade trees.[4] Several species of the tree are also use for bonsai making in the country.[17][18]

Baletes are used as houseplants;[19] however, it is a source of indoor household allergens which may cause respiratory allergy.[9]

Local folklore[edit]

In some areas of the country, some people believe that balete trees are dwelling places for supernatural beings like kapre or tikbalang. In some places, sorcery rituals are known performed inside the chambers formed by the tree.[20] Also among others, some superstitious folks suggest not bringing in balete as decorative plants inside a house as they allegedly invite ghosts.[9]

Balete Drive in New Manila, Quezon City, named after a gargantuan balete tree that used to stand in the middle of the street, is allegedly one of the most haunted places in the city. The tale of a white lady appears at night hailing cars that drive by have been circulated since the 1950s.[21]

Extreme examples[edit]

The “Millennium Tree” at Balete Park in Brgy. Quirino in the town of Maria Aurora in Aurora province[22]
  • A balete tree locally called "Millenium Tree" in Barangay Quirino, Maria Aurora, Aurora province in the Philippines is claimed to be the largest of its kind in Asia. It is estimated to be about 600+ years old and 60 metres (200 ft) tall with its roots about 10 metres (33 ft) to 15 metres (49 ft) in diameter. It is possible for adult people to squeeze into the center of its root network.[24]
  • A 400-year old balete tree in Barangay Campalanas in the town of Lazi, in Siquijor province is believed to be the oldest and the biggest in the province. What is also unusual about this tree is the spring that emanates from the base of the tree and flows straight into a man-made pool.[25]


  1. ^ a b c Whitford, H.N., Bureau of Forestry. "The Forests of the Philippines, Part 2", p.30. Manila Bureau of Printing, 1911.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b c Merritt, Melvin L., Bureau of Forestry. "The Forests of Mindoro", p.42. Manila Bureau of Printing, 1908.
  3. ^ a b c d Bureau of Insular Affairs. "Compilation of laws and regulations relating to public lands in the Philippine Islands". p.181. Washington Government Printing Office, 1908.
  4. ^ a b "Ficus benjamina Linn.". Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  5. ^ (2011-02-08). "Balete (Ficus benjamina var. nuda)". The Indi Journal. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  6. ^ "Ficus benjamina (Linn.) var. nuda (Miq.)". University of Hawaii at Manoa. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  7. ^ Bonsai King (2009-12-14). "Balete-Ficus concina". Bonsai Kingdom. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  8. ^ "Ficus concinna (Miquel)". Flora of China. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  9. ^ a b c Stuart, Godofredo. "Balete". Philippine Medicinal Plants. Retrieve on 2011-04-25.
  10. ^ Botany Department (2003-02). "Ficus forstenii". University of Hawaii at Manoa. Retrieved on 2011-04-24.
  11. ^ "Baleting-baging". Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  12. ^ "Ficus Payapa". Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry.Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  13. ^ Bonsai King (2010-02-19). "Balete-Ficus philipinenses. Bonsai Kingdom. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  14. ^ "Marabutan". Philippine Medicinal Plants. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  15. ^ "Marabutan". Bureau of Plant Industry. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  16. ^ "Balete – Scientific name: Ficus stipulosa Miq. Linn.". Filipino Herbs Healing Wonders. Retrieved on 2011-04-25.
  17. ^ Bonsai King (2010-02-04). "Bonsai Database". Bonsai Kingdom. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  18. ^ "Bonsai in the Philippines". Bonsai in Asia Guidebook. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  19. ^ Ficus Plants—How to Grow Healthy Ficus Trees
  20. ^ Brillantes, RC (2009-02-05). "The Mysterious Balete Tree". the green cloud. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  21. ^ "Myths Surrounding Balete Drive". Philippine Insider. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.
  22. ^ "Sightseeing - Nature Areas and Beaches". Discover Aurora. Retrieved on 2011-12-29.
  23. ^ Austria, Kelly (2010-12-07). "The Big Tree of Canlaon City". Follow My Trail. Retrieved on 2011-04-25.
  24. ^ Gorospe, Marjorie (2011-04-18). "Centuries-old balete tree attracts tourists in Aurora town". Yahoo News Philippines. Retrieved on 2011-04-25.
  25. ^ Administrator. "The Old Enchanted Tree in Siquijor". Siquijor Tour. Retrieved on 2011-04-27.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balete_tree — Please support Wikipedia.
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107 news items


Mon, 01 Jun 2015 09:07:30 -0700

The massive balete tree in Maria Aurora town, in Aurora province, is about as tall as a 15-story building and at its base is as wide as a three- or four-bedroom house. Tourists visit it by the busload, drawn by a simple superlative: It is known as the ...


Sun, 16 Aug 2015 08:33:45 -0700

He learned how to get beehives from his grandfather Rodrigo who brought him along in the old man's beehive hunts when he was young. Among the trees that Roldan climbs are balete and mango. Roldan said he is not afraid to climb a balete tree, a subject ...

GMA News

GMA News
Sun, 02 Nov 2014 02:21:15 -0800

The story of the Balete tree is not entirely a new one but Direk Rember Gelera strived to give this story a different look. For one thing, it is set in Laguna -- one of the most mystical provinces in the country. Balete tells the story of a tree in ...
GMA News
Thu, 16 Jul 2015 23:44:54 -0700

All of the water from the mountain beside the main road going to Vigan went down including some boulders. A balete tree was also toppled and dragged to the road. Officials from the Department of Public Works and Highways have already started the ...
Mon, 30 May 2011 01:49:29 -0700

The balete tree is said to date as far back as the 1800s. It has been an imposing figure in front of the Palace state entrance where incoming and outgoing Presidents pass through. “Mr. Brown” is said to be living in the tree since the American occupation.
Sun, 31 Oct 2010 06:40:16 -0700

MALASIQUI, PANGASINAN, Philippines ? Strange stories have been woven around ?balete? trees, and the centuries-old balete tree on the highway that crosses Canan Norte village is no exception. ?It has been there since I was a child. Our grandparents ...


Sat, 27 Jun 2015 06:18:45 -0700

Feeling outdoorsy but can't leave behind the comforts of home—like a proper bathroom? Plan a “glamping” trip to Baler in Aurora, where you can commune with nature without sacrificing convenience. While Baler is more known as one of the country's top ...


Tue, 12 May 2015 00:32:03 -0700

Standing close to a balete tree in the middle of nowhere sends shivers down my spine. As I crept through the house's secret dungeon and glanced at my first supernatural encounter with a creature in the game, my Filipino instinct of freezing in place ...

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