Amazing tree in downtown Key West

11 06 2009

I’m fairly certain that a Ficus aurea, or strangler fig, has taken over this tree (or group of trees) in downtown Key West. I did some research online and learned that they are common throughout the Caribbean and tropical Americas. You’ll find excellent and very detailed information about strangler figs with illustrative photos on this site: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ploct99.htm

Michael serves as my scale reference in the first photo. Doesn’t the second photo look like a backdrop from a Harry Potter movie? If I have misidentified this unusual tree, enlighten me!

THIS JUST IN…Artist Val Webb posted a comment on my garden-only site, http://www.gardenmuse.wordpress.com. Here is her comment:

“It has been many years since I visited Key West, but I seem to recall that the tree in question is a banyan tree. There is a large one on the Thomas Edison property there.”

I looked up “banyan tree” and learned that a banyan is a fig tree that starts its life as an epiphyte when its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices on a host tree. The seeds germinate and send down roots toward the ground, and may envelope part of the host tree…giving them the name of “strangler fig.” So apparently banyan is another name for it. Thanks for the input, Val!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

StranglerFig

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6 responses

11 06 2009
Pam/Digging

Creepy! I wonder what happens with the host tree dies? Is strangler fig parasitic, or does it just use the other tree for support?

11 06 2009
cindydyer

That link I gave reports:

“Expansion of the host trunk as it grows in girth may accentuate the death grip and subsequent girdling process. Eventually the host tree dies of strangulation and shading, and the strangler fig stands in its place. In many cases the host tree may actually succumb from shading and root competition rather than strangulation. When strangler figs start in the ground, as in cultivation, their trunks develop from the ground upward like other “conventional” trees.”

I’ve never seen anything like it!

11 06 2009
burstmode

It’s funny, I have seen banyan trees all my life and never understood how they worked. Creepy is not a term I would use for them, they are wonderful trees and very enjoyable to sit under.

11 06 2009
spamwarrior

That tree is AMAZING!

15 11 2009
eslpoder

WOW that is cool

3 03 2010
chandler arizona landscaping

Wow, that is so amazing. A natural wonder right in town

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