146. Strangler Fig

This fig tree is called a strangler for good reason.

A strangler fig begins life as a seed germinating on a tree – rooted not in the soil, but on the bark of another plant. Called epiphytes, plants like the strangler fig live attached to other plants —a habit of growth that is common in the plant world. 

What sets strangler figs apart from other epiphytes is that they quickly grow roots down to the forest floor. And their roots keep growing once they reach the soil. As they expand, the roots slowly form a kind of lattice work around the trunk of the host tree.

The strangler fig grows quickly. Its leaf canopy expands, overshadowing its original host.

Encased by the fig’s roots, without adequate light or nourishment, the host tree dies and rots away.