Are they saving the tree from the strangling fig?

posted in: Plants, Videography | 0

A huge crane fitted with an articulated bucket platform was used to trim a huge tree growing in my neighbour’s tiny garden.

video grab

The tree is a Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina), also known as Benjamin Fig. This is a known strangling fig that usually grows from the branches of our wayside trees. From a tiny sapling it puts down one or more aerial roots into the soil below. Once the fig is anchored, these roots increase in girth. More aerial roots develop, some circling round the host’s trunk that coalesce and with time hinder the growth of the host tree. In due course, usually after a few decades, the host tree slowly dies and the fig takes over with its own hollow trunk as the host’s trunk rots away.

This particular tree is far from being taken over, but the fig is more or less taking over the host’s crown. From my house I used to witness the many Pink-necked Green-pigeons (Treron vernans) settling on the terminal branches indulging in courtship as they gather in the evenings before flying off to their usual roosting trees somewhere else LINK.

The large tree was trimmed by a worker carried up in a bucket attached to the large crane. The work was completed within an hour or so. What was left of the tree was the basal trunk. This trunk will eventually give off branches. However, unless the remains of the fig’s roots around the trunk are removed, the fig will regrow with vigour.

As for the green-pigeons, they will find other trees to gather and maybe even to roost.

I suppose the owner is right to get rid of the fig tree as the roots in the soil can be very invasive, causing concrete structures to crack, clogging up underground sewerage channels, etc.

YC Wee
Singapore
20th April 2018

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