The Strangler Fig

strangler

Trees in the rainforest have a tremendous competition to grow and reach the sunlight at the top of the canopy. If they can't do that, they will die! One tree - called the "strangler fig" does this by going at it backwards! Rather than starting as a seedling in the ground and growing upwards, it starts as a seedling in the tops of trees and grows downward! Here is a very small strangler fig which has sprouted in a groove on the side of a palm tree.

strangler

This strangler fig is actually doing fairly well living on debris in the crevice of this palm.

strangler

Soon it will send roots downward towards the soil.

strangler

By the time it strangles and kills the host tree, its own roots are strong enough to hold it upright - as a new tree.

strangler

In the rainforest you will see huge trees that were once small strangler figs - no trace of the original host tree remains!


© 2001 Stephen Blythe