What Is a Strangler Tree?

The meanest kind of plant life is the strangler tree, which comes in several varieties. One example is the strangler fig tree of Brazil, whose fruit provides food for native birds.

Once a bird has eaten a fig, it may fly off with the fig seed in its mouth. It often deposits that seed at the top of a tall tree, where it sprouts. The seed then sends out a double set of roots. One set heads for the ground, as in most plants; the other starts winding around a branch of the host tree.

Once the first set of roots hits the ground, the strangler tree gets stronger and stronger. It develops more and more of the encircling roots and squeezes the host tree’s trunk tighter and tighter.

Finally, the sap can’t flow through the host tree to nourish it, and it dies. But the strangler tree is now strong enough to live on its own, taking the place once occupied by its victim.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

1 thought on “What Is a Strangler Tree?”

  1. We had a strangler tree cut down 8 months ago and am trying to find out how long it takes for the roots to die or dry out before I can say it is completely gone . Do the roots wrap around pipes ? Some roots are just above the ground surface and very hard too try to pull up. The lawn around the tree stump area is taking a long time to grow and has brown patches in the same area . Any advice ?

Leave a Comment