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Walt

Strangler fig on Sabal palmetto

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Walt

While up in town (Lake Placid, Florida) the other day I noticed this Sabal palmetto with what appears to be Ficus microcarpa beginning to strangle it. Normally I see Ficus aurea or perhaps Ficus benghalensis doing this. I also noted the ficus wasn't hurt from the recent cold, while at my place just 70 feet in lower elevation, down the hill, all of my ficus trees were defoliated, except for the upper half of my two Ficus altissima trees. Once above 25 feet on that tree the defoliation stopped.

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2283908530042496162S600x600Q85.jpg

2300752740042496162S600x600Q85.jpg

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bubba

Walt, I have seen numerous Sabals devoured by the Florida native ficus strangler but your Ficus looks totally different. It even winds around the Sabal differently.I have never seen anything quite like that.

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_Keith

If the Strangler Fig grew a little faster, it would be a great Science Fiction movie villain.

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Jerry@TreeZoo

Walt,

Down here you almost see the microcarpa starting this way more often than the aurea. There was one very similar to the one you show in the Deerfield Beach Arboretum. It started nearer the top in the same size Sabal. We tried to keep it from getting too big and use it as an interesting education piece, so we cut off all the roots about 4' from the ground. We did this every two or three years, and the darn thing just kept growing. It rerooted, and never dropped a leaf from the butchery. Eventually, Hurricane Wilma came along and snapped off the Sabal as there was too much weight at the top.

Jerry

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SunnyFl

Walt that's quite a root system the ficus has. Beautiful in a way, except it will most likely kill the Sabal.

In a book on tropical houses, a few photos show long supports for a ceiling formed out of trunks with ficus roots surrounding them. It's an amazing look, actually.

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Jerry@TreeZoo

Sunny,

It probably will kill the Sabal, but not by strangling it. After many years the Ficus will get so big that it will out compete the Sabal for sun, water and nutrition.

Jerry

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Walt
Walt, I have seen numerous Sabals devoured by the Florida native ficus strangler but your Ficus looks totally different. It even winds around the Sabal differently.I have never seen anything quite like that.

Yes, Bubba, I think this particular ficus is Ficus microcarpa, which is more common around here as they are a little more cold hardy. But this is the first time I've seen one taking the roll as a strangler fig. Most stranglers I've seen around here are Ficus aurea or F. benghalensis, like the one in the below photo (not sure if this one is aurea or benghalensis or some other species):

1359832167042496162S600x600Q85.jpg

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Walt
If the Strangler Fig grew a little faster, it would be a great Science Fiction movie villain.

LOL! Yes, I agree.

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Walt
Walt,

Down here you almost see the microcarpa starting this way more often than the aurea. There was one very similar to the one you show in the Deerfield Beach Arboretum. It started nearer the top in the same size Sabal. We tried to keep it from getting too big and use it as an interesting education piece, so we cut off all the roots about 4' from the ground. We did this every two or three years, and the darn thing just kept growing. It rerooted, and never dropped a leaf from the butchery. Eventually, Hurricane Wilma came along and snapped off the Sabal as there was too much weight at the top.

Jerry

Jerry, this was a first for me. But as an aside, I have a 9 feet high Ficus microcarpa coming up back in a lightly wooded area of my property. I haven't a clue how it started there, unless a bird deposited a seed. The nearest F. microcarpa to me is almost two miles away (not counting a small one I have only had for less than five years, planted as a seedling I dug up on a vacant lot in town).

I first noticed the tree maybe two years ago. I first thought it might be a Dahoon holly as I have them on my property. But as time went by I noticed the leaves were identical looking as F. microcarpa, plus the trunk had started to develop aerial roots. Then, after three days straight of sub 30 degree freezes at my place, the tree defoliated. I'm now convinced it's F. microcarpa.

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Walt
Walt that's quite a root system the ficus has. Beautiful in a way, except it will most likely kill the Sabal.

In a book on tropical houses, a few photos show long supports for a ceiling formed out of trunks with ficus roots surrounding them. It's an amazing look, actually.

Yes, the root system is kind of interesting at that. I think that's one reason I've always had an interest in ficus trees. I'm growing about five species of them but would like more. I've had no luck at all with cuttings from F. benghalensis and F. aurea. But I will try again in April.

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Austinpalm

I am curious. Will strangler figs engage in the strangling growth mode if planted in the ground next to another plant/object or does it really only occur if the fig germinates on the plant or object itself? I was sent a F. aureus from a friendly Floridian and am interested having it grow up and around a hackberry tree in my yard. Any thoughts?

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Walt
I am curious. Will strangler figs engage in the strangling growth mode if planted in the ground next to another plant/object or does it really only occur if the fig germinates on the plant or object itself? I was sent a F. aureus from a friendly Floridian and am interested having it grow up and around a hackberry tree in my yard. Any thoughts?

I don't know, but maybe others might. However, I have a very small Acrocomia aculeata palm right next to where a Ficus microcarpa came up on its own. The tree is now 9 feet high. So far it has not tried to evelope the A. aculeata.

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Jerry@TreeZoo

Clay,

Both the Hackberry and the Ficus have a spreading habit. It might look like a confused jumble of trees and you couldn't appreciate each tree for itself. Just my opinion. Anyway, to answer your question, if a ficus branch touches something else, be it a house, a fence or another tree, it is possible that it will send down arial roots at that contact point. When the bark is damaged by rubbing (or cutting) it often initiates new arial roots. This fact can be helpful to know so you can intentionally cut through a bit of bark on the bottom side of the branch and have roots come out where you want them.

Jerry

Edited by Jerry@TreeZoo

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fastfeat

Ficus microcarpa is becoming a pretty noxious weed in SoFla. Freeway overpasses seem to be favorite germination locations, probably due to birds roosting there.

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bubba

Walt, I took a picture of a devouring Strangler over here that I will post.It is definitely a different form of Ficus.It kind of makes you wonder if Ficus talk to each other and compare notes!

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Austinpalm
Clay,

Both the Hackberry and the Ficus have a spreading habit. It might look like a confused jumble of trees and you couldn't appreciate each tree for itself. Just my opinion. Anyway, to answer your question, if a ficus branch touches something else, be it a house, a fence or another tree, it is possible that it will send down arial roots at that contact point. When the bark is damaged by rubbing (or cutting) it often initiates new arial roots. This fact can be helpful to know so you can intentionally cut through a bit of bark on the bottom side of the branch and have roots come out where you want them.

Jerry

Jerry,

I know what you mean about hackberry having a spreading habit, though the one in question does not. The fact is that I have a 1 or hackberrys that I would not mind parting with. Both are part of a small grove in the back corner of my yard. All have nice trunks and I have trimmed all branches to at least 15 feet off of the ground. It would not bother me if the strangler fig killed the hackberry so that just the fig had leaves. I'll be very surprised and happy if the F. aureus does well here in Austin. I planted a 2-foot tall sapling last summer. We have had a fairly warm winter so far (knock on wood) and it still has all of its leaves, though 1 or 2 are crispy at the ends. I hope to see some good growth once summer starts.

So far the F. aureus, macrophylla, and roxburghii in the backyard all still have green leaves and are slowly growing. The macrophylla looks best of all with no damage as of yet. Hopefully, February will be equal to or warmer than January. If so, I may just get thru the year with my first 9b winter in town.

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Eric in Orlando

F. microcarpa is a very noxious weed in SoFL. I've never seen the native F. aurea sprout in trees here but have seen F. microcarpa.

Check this one out, its in a local park. Its a battle of the SoFL invasives, a Ficus microcarpa sprouted in the crown of a Melaleuca quinquefaria.

2ca2.jpg

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bubba

Eric, That is hilarious!

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Walt
Walt, I took a picture of a devouring Strangler over here that I will post.It is definitely a different form of Ficus.It kind of makes you wonder if Ficus talk to each other and compare notes!

Bubba: I've read, I think in Riffle's, The Tropical Look, that many species of ficus start out as stranglers, so it doesn't surpise me that you may have found a different one, especially since there's more than 800 species! I will be interested in seeing the photo.

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FRITO

here one i found on ft myers beach

post-741-1233730713_thumb.jpg

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FRITO

closer, at least someone is trimming it back

post-741-1233730765_thumb.jpg

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FRITO

heres a mess! a couple palmettos being eaten

post-741-1233730859_thumb.jpg

Edited by FRITO

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Walt
heres a mess! a couple palmettos being eaten

And they appear to be Ficus microcarpa, too.

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Eric in Orlando

Clusia rosea and Schefflera actinophylla both can start out as epiphytes and become "stranglers".

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Eric in Orlando

Heres a couple other trees that have sprouted in the boots of a Sabal palmetto and are imitating a strangler fig;

Quercus laurifolia- Laurel Oak, looks almost like some kind of animal in the 1st photo

7ce8.jpg

8bcb.jpg

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Eric in Orlando

and some Magnolia grandiflora, Southern Magnolia, at Bok Sanctuary in Lake Wales

a29a.jpg

dfc5.jpg

9720.jpg

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Walt

Eric, that looks like something our of a Sci-FI movie! Great photos (last two posts).

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Eric in Orlando

You would swear those Mags were a Ficus. In that last photo, the palm had been snapped off in Hurricane Charley so the Mag definitely won.

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bubba

Walt and Eric, This is nothing to compare with those last several surreal shots but they do represent what is common:

Ficustravellers001.jpg

Another angle:

Ficustravellers002.jpg

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bubba

More from the other side:

Ficustravellers003.jpg

A couple of Sabals that got away:

Ficustravellers004.jpg

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bubba

A look at the leaves:

Ficustravellers005.jpg

This is what you see all over at various stages. Those other shots were great!

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fastfeat
and some Magnolia grandiflora, Southern Magnolia, at Bok Sanctuary in Lake Wales

a29a.jpg

dfc5.jpg

9720.jpg

Eric--

Awesome shots (this and Q. laurifolia). Never seen either as an epiphyte before.

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DoomsDave

Walt:

remember that movie about the alien that gets into the space ship, and eats everyone except Sigourney Weaver and the cat?

That strangler fig looks like that . . . . . .

eeeeesh . . . :huh:

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SubTropicRay

Very strange looking Walt. Like Bubba mentioned, I've never seen anything quite like that.

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