Stranglers on the campus


Here are pictures of some of the strangler figs on the campus.

Fig picture 1

A fig, gripping an almost dead tree, behind the KReSIT building. In the foreground, Amreek, trying to smile.

Fig picture 2

A palm tree enveloped by a fig on the lake side road to Devi temple. The palms usually continue to live as they do not tend to grow in girth. Prasanna, my roommate, holding one of the nuts of the palm

Fig picture 3

Roots, branches, trunk all seem like one huge confused mess. This fig tree, also behind KReSIT, is pretty huge with branches dropping trunk-sized roots down to the ground

Fig picture 4

Detail from the picture on the left. Note the loop around one of its own branches.

Fundaes (TBD)

Strangler figs: Fruit eaten by some animal or bird - seed passes through the digestive system and gets deposited along with dung on some branch of a tree - sapling grows deriving nutrition from the dung - young tree shoots off roots/branches through the air trying to reach the ground - branches and stem of the host tree are enveloped and strangled - the girth growth of the stem of the host is restricted - sunlight competetion - the fig grabs most of the light and leaves the host in shade - the fig eventually envelopes the entire main stem and host may die and rot away - the fig is left with a hollow trunk where small animals can live

I got interested in fig trees after reading one of Richard Dawkin's books (I think it was "Climbing Mount Improbable"). It contains a wonderful discussion on the pollination mechanism used by figs involving specific wasp species. An orchard which looks like a fruit - female wasps commiting suicide to deposit eggs inside the fig flowers - fig strategy to save some flowers from being hijacked by the wasps - male wasps trying to kill all other male wasps inside the 'fruit' - females escaping out to complete their mission in life (i.e. finding another fig 'fruit' and laying eggs) - in the process taking some pollen along and hence helping in cross-pollination for the fig - various evolutionary strategies and counter strategies taken by the two players (figs and wasps)


Interested people can visit the following pages for more info on the exciting life of these trees.

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