Our venture inside a strangler fig

Strangler figs include several species of trees that share a “strangling” growth habit that makes them particularly well adapted to growing in dense forests where competition for light is extreme. They are hemiepiphytes, which means that they grow around other trees for structure and obtain nutrients and moisture from the air, and then eventually establish roots in the ground. Their seeds, which are often dispersed by birds, get lodged in the canopy of other trees, germinate there, and send their roots downward, enveloping the support tree in a mass of intertwined roots. Eventually the strangler fig develops its own underground root system, becoming independent of the support tree.

When Ross was here studying two years ago, he became acquainted with one particularly enormous strangler fig in Santa Elena, about a half hour walk from the study center. Today we went back to see it and found that it had been blown over by the wind. We jumped on the opportunity to crawl inside the trunk and in the canopy and see what we could find. We strapped the camera on Marty’s head as she climbed deep inside the strangler fig and voilà! We bring the tree to you. Enjoy!


8 responses to “Our venture inside a strangler fig

  1. What a nice experience to see the inside of a strangler tree or fig? No creepy crawlers in there? Thanks for the unigue view.

  2. Wow! What an awesome perspective. I look forward to seeing more of Costa Rica from the top of Marty’s head in the future! Really cool film you two!

  3. AHH! super cool. I have some sweet pics from a strangler fig I free climbed part of the way up near a volcano called Rincon de La Vieja in Guancaste, which I highly recommend. Sweet waterfall there too, called Catarata Cangreja.

    Miss you guys!

  4. Very nice – I am so thrilled with your posts and your creativity and that you are so generously sharing with those of us who will most likely never have the opportunity to climb inside a strangler fig tree…

    And Marty-Sweetie – i was watching you climb and saw you put your hand in one of the grooves and cringed! and thought eeekkk what if there is something in there…and moments later you said I wonder if there’s anything living in here – and like any good suspense horror movie I was at my computer saying – Yes, yes – don’t go in there… but you didn’t hear me apparently… LOL… Great Great work – love the helmet cam

  5. Fantastic video, you two! It seems like the tree is hundreds of feet tall (or… long now). Glad to see that Marty made it out to post more videos! 🙂 The videography, editing, and soundtracks are very well done in all of your short films as well. Kudos. Miss you both!!

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