More and more roots are sent downward, each one turning into yet another trunk when the roots reach the ground. Surely if one trunk is good, then many must be much better. The result brings to mind a cathedral replete with flying buttresses.
This old beech tree in the Institute Woods in Princeton achieves a somewhat similar effect, though it's just one trunk that has rotted through. A closer equivalent in our forests is achieved in a more covert fashion. Trees like beech, sassafras, pawpaw, black locust, aspen, and the blackhaw Viburnum sprout new trunks as their roots spread underground, creating what appears to be a grove of trees that is in fact one individual.
Barnacle Historic State Park is the native Ficus aurea, whose fruits the sign says are edible.
banyan trees from India.
Here's a closeup of a cluster of soil-seeking roots growing downward from a limb--another tree trunk in the making.
This fig appears ready to eat the pavement,
I forgot to mention the hidden flowers, which are borne inside the fruit and accessed only by a tiny wasp. Each species of fig has its own specialized species of fig wasp to fertilize it. For more reading, and some cool photos of just how tiny those wasps are, here's an interesting post. This Forest Service post describes the mutualistic relationship between the wasp and the tree, and says the U.S. has only two species of native fig.
For anyone headed down Florida way, a good example of a banyan tree can be found at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Minipark, named after the famed activist and author of The Everglades: River of Grass.