Strangler Fig Facts
- Firstly, the term Strangler Fig serves as the collective common name for a group of tropical species with one specific thing in common. That’s the fact that each of them forms a member of the Ficus genus. Further, that mutual trait remains the evolution of a most unusual method of growth and reproduction. In point of fact, this fascinating group begins its life as a sticky seed.
- When a random animal transfers this seed to a high tree branch, the seed sprouts there. As it grows, the plant also sends shoots downward. Once these reach the ground they thicken and spread. Eventually, the invader has encompassed the trunk of the host tree. Its own root system will out compete that of the host species. The host tree eventually dies and rots away.
- The various forms of Strangler Fig also share another, positive trait. That’s the fact, for the moment, at least, all of them appear to be maintaining stable populations. Therefore, the IUCN does not presently have a listing for any of them. Nonetheless, members of the genus likely fact the same potential threats as other species. These would mainly consist of habitat loss and climate change.
Strangler Fig Physical Description
Since the term Strangler Fig applies to multiple species, physical variations between the differing species quite naturally occur. Nonetheless, their close relationship means that each also shares numerous traits with the other members of the genus. Overall, the group members remain far more alike than dissimilar.
One of the strongest shared traits is how each of them begins life. That’s because most forms of the fascinating plant begin life as a sticky seed. This later becomes deposited on a tree limb or branch. This depositing usually happens via the action of birds, bats, or monkeys who have previously eaten the fruit.
Subsequently, the seed of the Strangler Fig later sprouts. Afterward, long roots develop and descend along the trunk of the tree. Once it reaches the soil, this root digs in and anchors itself tightly. Typically, several roots do this, and the result encircles the host tree. Unfortunately, this eventually kills it by depriving it of sunlight.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Rosales
- Family: Moraceae
- Genus: Ficus
Strangler Fig Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The various forms of the Strangler Fig have a nearly global distribution. The understandable exceptions consists of the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Furthermore, the various species appear around the world in both temperate and tropical forest regions. While the highly impressive genus inhabits such forests worldwide, it nevertheless remains especially prevalent in South America.
The members of the fascinating genus actually constitute vitally important plant species in the areas where they appear. In addition, the marvel of Nature also plays several roles within the ecosystems it inhabits. In point of fact, this appears to be especially true in many tropical forests. Actually, most species hold the position of a keystone species within the particular ecosystems they inhabit.
This occurs for very specific reasons. A hollow center where the host tree had rotted away commonly serves as both shelters and breeding grounds for numerous species of birds, bats, and assorted other small animals. The Strangler Fig itself also provides food to a wide variety of animal species. Finally, its fruits actually rank among the most nutritious available, both for animals and humans alike.