Strangler fig

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Strangler fig is the common name for a number of tropical and subtropical plant species in the genus Ficus, including those that are commonly known as banyans. Some of the more well-known species are:

These all share a common "strangling" growth habit that is found in many tropical forest species, particularly of the genus Ficus.[1] This growth habit is an adaptation for growing in dark forests where the competition for light is intense. Strangler figs suck up the nutrients from its victims,[citation needed] causing them to die eventually. These plants are hemiepiphytes, spending the first part of their life without rooting into the ground. Their seeds, often bird-dispersed, germinate in crevices atop other trees. These seedlings grow their roots downward and envelop the host tree while also growing upward to reach into the sunlight zone above the canopy.[2][3]

An original support tree can sometimes die, so that the strangler fig becomes a "columnar tree" with a hollow central core.[4] However, it is also believed that the strangler fig can help its support tree survive storms.[5]

Strangler trees are able to colonize the challenging habitat found on the sides of buildings in urban areas. Strangler figs in the tropics are pre-adapted to adopt an aerophytic as well as "acrobatic" urban life by clinging on to building envelopes.[6]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zhekun, Zhou & Michael G. Gilbert (2003) "Flora of China" (Moraceae) 5: 21–73. Archived 2006-09-01 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Serventy, V. (1984). Australian Native Plants. Victoria: Reed Books.
  3. ^ "Light in the rainforest" 1992 Tropical topics. Vol 1 No. 5, Archived 2007-07-01 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Margaret Lowman; H. Bruce Rinker (2004). Forest Canopies. Academic Press. pp. 180–. ISBN 978-0-12-457553-0.
  5. ^ Richard, Leora.; Halkin, Sylvia (June 2017). "Strangler figs may support their host trees during severe storms". Symbiosis. 72 (2): 153–157. doi:10.1007/s13199-017-0484-5. S2CID 29202538.
  6. ^ Jim, C.Y. (2018). "Epiphytic strangler trees colonizing extreme habitats of building envelopes in Hong Kong". Landscape and Urban Planning. 178: 281–291. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2018.07.003. S2CID 92651962.

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