- San Diego Zoo
Fig (Ficus): Strangler Fig Ficus
FAMILY: MORACEAE (Mulberry Family)
Strangler figs, which make up about half of the Ficus species, readily germinate and soon develop serpentine aerial roots that completely engulf their host, whether that host is a tree or a building made of stone. Judging by the huge strangler figs that writhe over and through the ruins of many ancient cities, it's likely that they are mainly responsible for the destruction of bygone Mayan pyramids and other majestic structures in Mexico and Central America, as well as early European forts built in the Caribbean. In fact, if the San Diego Zoo's climate were more humid, our maintenance department would probably be waging a continuous battle against strangler fig seedlings taking root on our own treetops and the roofs and rain gutters of our buildings.