Strangler figs - Banyan, Peepal on Palymra palm

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raghu ananth

May 29, 2010, 1:29:51 AM5/29/10
Strangler figs - Banyan, Peepal on Palymra palm
Palmyra palm, Borassus flabellifer

This majestic palmyra palm is huge, strong and  the tallest I have ever seen.
The figs, the Peepal  and the Banyan twine over the 80-100-years-old palmyra tree. 
As can be seen, the Peepal tree is the first to entangle the palymra and has plastered itself firmly around  the Palmyra palm- forming a  cramped basket.  On top of the peepal  is another of the mighty kind - the Banyan. Note the bark portions in the of the palm projecting outside. Probably calling "Save me"

I am yet to witness a palmyra crushed completely because of a strangler. Will both these Primary Hemiepiphytes together be able to bring down the strong palmyra ?

Near Sadras Dutch fort, 
Old Mahabalipuram road
~ 90 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu

27 April 20101


tanay bose

May 29, 2010, 1:31:43 AM5/29/10
to raghu ananth,
Again a nice set of photos

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Tanay Bose
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Neil Soares

May 29, 2010, 3:34:28 AM5/29/10
to, raghu ananth
Hi Raghu,
  Beautiful photographs !!! The answer to your question is in a mail I had posted on this site in April 2008. Am reproducing it below.
                        Neil Soares.

                                                        April 2008


Hi Mr Garg, Sibdas and Dr. Barve,
        In the tropical rain forests, strangler figs
start their lives as epiphytes in the canopy
approximately 200 feet above the ground. [Our
specimens in the Indian sub-continent are dwarfed by
their tropical counterparts.] Once it has established
itself it sends a root abruptly down to earth. Soon
more roots are sent down the trunk of the support
tree, plastered against its trunk. In extreme forms of
stranglers the roots coalesce to form a cramped basket
around the tree trunk. Then as the tree attempts to
grow they crush it to death. The strangler also
affects the support tree by overshadowing it with its
dense foliage thereby interfering with its
photosynthesis and competing with its roots for
nutrients and water.
      The strangler fig impedes expansion of the tree
which is absolutely necessary for the trees survival
as in the trunk new vessels must periodically replace
dying ones. If rings of vessels cannot be added by
increasing trunk girth, nutrients and water cease to
      This is why strangler figs seldom kill palm
trees as palms have thick, hard barks and do not need
to grow in diameter to replace their vessels.
       The Pipal tree seems especially malicious.
Starting as an epiphyte, it drives roots into the
host, literally tearing it apart. The tree corpse,
cradled in the arms of its slayer then rots and falls
        At my farm at Shahapur [near Bombay], I have
an old Banyan tree that started life as a strangler as
evidenced by the void left behind where the supporting
tree once stood.
[Have not been able to establish the identity of the
original tree though].
       Am sending a few photographs as attachments.
                   With regards,
                     Neil Soares.

--- On Sat, 5/29/10, raghu ananth <> wrote:

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