Strangler Fig
Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 12:04PM
[chuck] in Brazil, Science, Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve, strangler fig

Slow pan up the trunk of a large tree in the Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve in Brazil that is starting to be engulfed by a strangler fig. Several steps are involved here. Bird eats a fig (only certain species of Ficus are stranglers), later poops out the seed, seed germinates in the crown of a tree, young seedling starts sending roots down from the canopy to the soil, i.e. it is a hemiepiphyte. Once the roots enter the soil things speed up. Strangler starts producing a lot of leaves in the crown of the host tree, sends down (many) more roots, and these roots start to coalesce around the trunk of the tree.  Tree wants to grow in diameter. Strangler wants a solid column to support its rapidly expanding crown. Host tree loses.   

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