SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Strangler fig (Ficus natalensis). Tree trunk encased by the roots of a hemiepiphytic fig. Strangler figs begin life as epiphytes growing in the branches of trees, where the seeds dropped by birds have germinated. The plant sends down tendrils which fuse together and form a mesh around its host, cutting off its sap flow and preventing it from growing properly. Once the roots have reached the ground, the fig plant is termed hemiepiphytic, competing with its host for nutrients and water. Typically the host plant dies. Photographed at Nelspruit Botanical Garden, South Africa.
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