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Strangler Fig - Biological Weathering

Strangler Fig - Biological Weathering
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Plants
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2001-10
Categories: Trees
Camera: Canon EOS 1vHS, Canon 24-70 mm f 2,8 L-USM
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): TN Favourites [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-05-19 8:24
Viewed: 65247
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 48
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I took this picture at the ruins of Ta Prohm, one of the temples of Ankor Wat. This temple has not been restored - when the complex was 'rediscovered' it all looked like this. The light conditions were pretty poor.

Biological weathering is a form of weathering caused by the activities of living organisms for example, the growth of roots or the burrowing of animals. Tree roots are probably the most significant agents of biological weathering as they are capable of prising apart rocks by growing into cracks and joints. Plants also give off organic acids that help to break down rocks chemically.

Strangler figs are tall canopy trees which can grow to 148 feet in height. The manner in which they reach the canopy is a strange story. The forest floor of a rainforest is a difficult place for seedlings to grow. There is little light and a lot of competition for water and nutrients. Strangler figs have made an adaptation to avoid these difficulties. Unlike most plants, strangler figs start out their lives as epiphytes in the crook of a tree or on its branches. Tiny, sticky seeds are deposited high in a tree by animal droppings. The seeds are not affected by the animal's digestive tract and soon germinate.

The strangler fig has an aggressive growth habit that insures its survival in the rainforest. The seedlings grows slowly at first, getting their nutrients from the sun, rain and leaf litter that has collected on the host. The stranglers send out many thin roots that snake down the trunk of the host tree or dangle as aerial roots from its branches. When the roots reach the ground they dig in and put on a growth spurt, competing with the host tree for water and nutrients. They also send out a network of roots that encircle the host tree and fuse together. As the roots grow thicker they squeeze the trunk of its host and cut off its flow of nutrients.

In the canopy the strangler fig puts out lots of leaves that soon grow thicker than the host tree and rob it of sun light. Eventually the host dies from strangulation, insufficient sunlight and root competition, and the strangler fig stands on its own. A hollow center is all that remains of the host.

Some figs grow root systems that develop into thin buttresses that can spread out to a distance of about 30 feet. Other figs grow aerial roots from their branches that, when they reach the ground, root themselves and become another trunk on the same tree. Strangler figs have light colored bark and umbrella shaped canopies. Green above and lighter below, the leaves are simple, ovoid and usually between 1.5 - 3 inches long. Waxy leaves protect the strangler fig from drying winds and sunlight that it is exposed to high in the canopy.

garyfudge, fartash, nglen, PaulH, nainnain, delic, cicindela, ssujesh, taba, sranjan, movoschu has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To AnimalExplorer: Jungle BookJamesp 1 05-31 13:25
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi James,

this is amazing. Are you sure it's not off some fantasy set like 'Lord of the Rings,' the home of some madrigal!

It's surreal.

Great capture.


Hi James.
wow.. Excellent shot. very inetersting. good work. well done. tfs. Stev

nice pic, TFS Ori

Hello James
Excellent shot of this Strangler fig,
Great composition and lighting,
Informative note,Welldone.


  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-05-19 14:53]

Hello James,
Even though this is a scanned shot, it clearly and artistically shows the forces of nature if left to work unhindered.
Not only is the temple ruin being discoloured and eroded by algae, mosses and lichens, but blatantly by a huge fig looking like a sci-fi octupus taking command.
I fine contribution to TN!
TFS and best wishes, Ivan

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2007-05-19 15:58]

Hi James I had to look twice at this one. then i read the notes. as you say hard lighting to deal with. good compostion. Just amazing. with great notes. Thanks for the Read.
Nick. Have a good week end.

Hi James,
thanks for this impressive shot.
I love that place, a wonderful place at Angkor.
I visited it in 2005. Thank you so much for bringing back so nice memories with your shot, bye and greetings
Sabine - wishnugaruda

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-05-19 23:02]

Hello James

I agree it looks like a movie setting.Perhaps Tomb Raider? An unusual and beautiful place.I think the lighting you achieved adds to the atmosphere of the shot.Excellent POV and composition.Wonderful notes.TFS


  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2007-05-20 4:46]

Hi James

Fascinating shot here, the scale of the Strangler Fig is very impressive, and what a way to show it! Great composition and colours, thanks for sharing!


wonderful sobject and very good photo


These roots of a Strangler Fig tree look like the tentacles of a giant octopus, gripping one of the stone temples at Ankor Wat, James.
In this picture, they also look like an avant garde creation in sculpture with abstract motifs.
We have a variant of this tree in India which is worshipped by Hindus as the incarnation of God Vishnu. It is called Vat-vriksha, Bodhi-vriksha or Bargad in common language.
The picture gives a perfect impression on this ancient ruin. I have a deep desire to visit this region when I return home after retirement.
Thanks and regards.

  • Great 
  • delic Gold Star Critiquer [C: 440 W: 6 N: 310] (898)
  • [2007-05-21 13:27]

Hi James,
Great story and photograph of the strangler fig. They are not so nice to the ruins either, as in this case in Angkor Wat. Excellent job. Regards,

Hi James,
What a cool shot of Ta Prohm, looks as though it were a scene from 'The Jungle Book'. Great shot showing the natural deteriation of a man made structure. I did not know plants could create chemicals that break down rocks. Thanks for the great note. :)

Hello James!
I do not know why I overlooked this picture before! Fantastic POV and amazing place! These trees really look great!
Bravo for the note too.
Best withes,

Wonderful photo

  • Great 
  • taba Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 466 W: 124 N: 312] (1847)
  • [2008-01-03 16:18]

Hi James
An unreal image...
It seems to me like and alien came from outer space and dissolving the earth houses... :)
It an exaggerating vision, but certainly it's a demonstration of the nature power...
great picture and image...


Ciao James.
What a fantastic scene! When nature is strenger than human law.

Wow, thank you having the right "eye" to get this one!CarOze

Hello James,
Even I agree with Ram Thakur that it looks like the tentacles of the giant octopus holding the temple. Unique composition with mystique effects. TFS

  • Great 
  • cris Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 22 W: 3 N: 31] (789)
  • [2009-05-25 1:51]

Hi James
This is a fantastic foto. I like it so much and I expect more from the area.

All the best

very extraordinary photo!!!

Hi James,

Great photo and thank you for the informative story.
Kind regards

A great capture. Well done.

very inposant wel captured foto. Very interesting information.
thanks for sharing - Monique -

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