Monday, 3 January 2011

The Lamington Strangler

Early stage - This watkinsiana fig is enveloping the Booyang Tree which is still alive.
Middle stage - The strangler fig has totally enveloped the host tree, but both depend on each other.
Mature stage - The host tree has died and been totally 'used up' by the strangler fig which is a hollow structure.

The Lamington National Park has numerous examples of strangler figs at all stages.

The fig does not grow from the forest floor but from seeds deposited by birds within the forest canopy. It grows epiphytically, meaning it attaches itself to a host tree and grows both down toward the soil and up toward the light.

A 'strangler fig' is not a vine. Below is a vine winding its way around a tree to get to the light in the canopy.

12 comments:

brattcat said...

I've seen other parasitic species who live to kill the host and die after they've achieved their purpose. Something quite disturbing in the logic of this branch of evolution.

Luis Gomez said...

This is so amazing! Beautiful Julie.

Kay L. Davies said...

I've heard of such things but never seen one illustrated as clearly as this. Amazing, Julie, and also somewhat creepy (or maybe I'm just reacting to your post title).
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Julie said...

Kay, there is a 'knack' to post titles, as you will know. This one took some little time to get from the rainforest strangler, over to Boston, and finally to join the two with the frivolity of cake.

RedPat said...

Wow - great info! Thanks.

J Bar said...

From the title, I thought it was going to be a post about the cakes. :)

diane b said...

Clever title. I knew what you meant being aware of where you are . Great sequence of shots. Is it hard to get the light right in the forest?

Joan Elizabeth said...

I love rainforests with their cycle of growth and decay.

PS. Whenever I try to make lamingtons they look strangled.

Julie said...

Right now I am at Coolangatta airport.

Diane: it is extremely difficult to get the light right, especially chasing birdies! I was often on 800 and once even 1600. I nearly always shoot on F4.5. I even had to go to manual zoom chasing birds through branches

But it was fun ... I actually laughed out loud a couple of times thinking they was having 'fun' with moi. More about that in a bird post in a ooupla daze.

Jack said...

That was quite an education. The chills run up my spine . . .

JM said...

These fig trees are some of the most fascinating plants I've seen. Loved this and the previous post. I wonder if this Queensland park is now underwater too... What a big tragedy you are going through.

Julie said...

No, the Lamington National Park is not underwater, Jose. Where I was is about 3,000 ft above sea-level.

I am not sure this is a tragedy. It is a disaster, because of the destruction of crops and national infrastructure. But not a tradedy, as the loss of life is restricted - and generally restricted to those individuals who have gotten themselves into difficulties by crossing swollen creeks and the like.