Saturday, August 04, 2007

Strangler fig

Speaking of tree trunks, here's a strangler fig (Ficus nymphacaefolia) with all the marks of having been whacked at with machetes. There's so much to say about the tree, I don't understand why anyone would want to cut it to show off the flowing latex. But tour guides love show and tell, so I hope the stories compensated for the injuries to the tree. Mind you, it's not in danger of dying, it just that I got used to seeing it over the years - without all those scars. In a previous post I described how the strangler fig starts off as a vine on a host tree or palm. In this case the host/hostess is a mucaja palm (Acrocomia aculeata), which is the the largest native palm of the Bosque. I don't know what it is that the fig likes about this palm but I've noticed that most strangler figs take up with them. The palm inside this fig is still alive. It can be seen at about midway up the tree. Eventually it will get smothered and die. In the meanwhile, the fig tree gets bigger and bigger and it already produces voluminous amounts of fruit at least once a year, all of which gets eaten up by the forest animals.

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