GREGORY DIMIJIAN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GREGORY DIMIJIAN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Strangler fig. View from the ground up into the root cage of a strangler fig tree (Ficus aurea). This cavity once contained the fig's host tree, which has long since died and disintegrated. These figs start life as epiphytic seedlings at the top of another tree, drawing moisture from the air. They send rootlets down to the ground, which grow rapidly and eventually surround the host tree. The fig takes all the nutrients from the soil around the host tree, leading to its death. Strangler figs may reach heights of over twenty metres. They inhabit the humid forests around the Caribbean Sea. Photographed in Costa Rica.
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