strangler fig


strangler fig

tree
also called  strangler 

      many species of tropical figs (genus Ficus) named for their pattern of growth upon host trees, which often results in the host's death. Strangler figs and other strangler species are common in tropical forests throughout the world.

      Of the 150 or so species of New World figs, most are stranglers, including F. obtusifolia and F. nymphaeifolia. Beginning life as a sticky seed left on a high tree branch by an animal such as a bird, bat, or monkey, the young strangler lives on the tree's surface (see epiphyte). As it grows, long roots develop and descend along the trunk of the host tree, eventually reaching the ground and entering the soil. Several roots usually do this, and they become grafted together, enclosing their host's trunk in a strangling latticework, ultimately creating a nearly complete sheath around the trunk. The host tree's canopy becomes shaded by the thick fig foliage, its trunk constricted by the surrounding root sheath, and its own root system forced to compete with that of the strangling fig. This process can kill the host; if not, the host tree, being much older than the strangler, still dies eventually and rots away and a magnificent fig "tree" is left behind whose apparent "trunk" is actually a gigantic cylinder of roots.

      Some Old World stranglers, such as the weeping fig (F. benjamina), develop roots from their branches and send them straight down through the air. When they reach the ground, these roots grow into the soil, thicken, and become additional "trunks." In this way stranglers grow outward to become large patches of fig forest that consist of a single plant with many interconnected trunks.

      Strangler figs are ecologically important in some tropical forests. The hollow centres of strangler figs are full of large hollows that provide shelter and breeding sites for bats, birds, and other animals. Perhaps more importantly, stranglers are “keystone species” in that they provide food to a wide variety of animals during times of scarcity.

      The strangler figs all belong to the genus Ficus, which is a member of the mulberry family (see Moraceae). In addition to the strangler figs, other tropical forest plants from different families are also considered stranglers. In South America, the genus Clusia (see Clusiaceae) is abundant and includes many species that rarely kill their host and seldom become independent trees. An Old World genus with strangling members is schefflera.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Strangler Fig — is the common name for a number of tropical plant species, including some banyans and unrelated vines, namely: * Ficus aurea , also known as the Florida Strangler Fig * Ficus barbata , also known as the Bearded Fig * Ficus watkinsiana They all… …   Wikipedia

  • strangler fig — noun 1. a common tropical American clusia having solitary white or rose flowers • Syn: ↑pitch apple, ↑Clusia rosea, ↑Clusia major • Hypernyms: ↑strangler, ↑strangler tree • Member Holonyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • strangler fig — /stræŋglə ˈfɪg/ (say stranggluh fig) noun a tall rainforest tree, Ficus watkinsiana, which germinates in the branches of a host tree, sending many crisscrossing roots down which eventually envelop the host tree and kill it, leaving the fig in… …   Australian English dictionary

  • strangler fig — noun Date: 1933 any of several figs (as Ficus aurea of the southeastern United States) that start as epiphytes but send down roots to the ground around the host tree; broadly any of various epiphytic vines or trees (as Clusia rosea syn. C. major) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Strangler fig — Ficus (E) …   EthnoBotanical Dictionary

  • Florida strangler fig — noun a strangler tree native to southern Florida and West Indies; begins as an epiphyte eventually developing many thick aerial roots and covering enormous areas • Syn: ↑golden fig, ↑strangler fig, ↑wild fig, ↑Ficus aurea • Hypernyms: ↑fig tree • …   Useful english dictionary

  • fig tree — noun any moraceous tree of the tropical genus Ficus; produces a closed pear shaped receptacle that becomes fleshy and edible when mature (Freq. 1) • Hypernyms: ↑tree • Hyponyms: ↑fig, ↑common fig, ↑common fig tree, ↑Ficus carica, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • strangler tree — noun an epiphytic vine or tree whose aerial roots extend down the trunk of a supporting tree and coalesce around it eventually strangling the tree • Syn: ↑strangler • Derivationally related forms: ↑strangle (for: ↑strangler) • Hypernyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • strangler — noun 1. an epiphytic vine or tree whose aerial roots extend down the trunk of a supporting tree and coalesce around it eventually strangling the tree • Syn: ↑strangler tree • Derivationally related forms: ↑strangle • Hypernyms: ↑air plant,… …   Useful english dictionary

  • golden fig — noun a strangler tree native to southern Florida and West Indies; begins as an epiphyte eventually developing many thick aerial roots and covering enormous areas • Syn: ↑Florida strangler fig, ↑strangler fig, ↑wild fig, ↑Ficus aurea • Hypernyms:… …   Useful english dictionary


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