The Strangler Fig
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
This strangler fig is actually doing fairly well living on debris in
the crevice of this palm.
Soon it will send roots downward towards the soil.
By the time it strangles and kills the host tree, its own roots are
strong enough to hold it upright - as a new tree.
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