Ficus macrophylla – The Strangler Tree

In the neighboring parks of Glorieta and Parterre three monumental trees immediately grab your attention. These are Valencia’s most prominent Moreton Bay Figs (Ficus macrophylla). Their mammoth, twisting roots provide great seats in the shade, and an easy photo opportunity for uninspired tourists. “No, honey! Stand on the root. That’s right! Now wave to Daddy! Haw-haw, that’s great! Just great!!”

But these hulking monsters aren’t quite as benevolent as we usually assume large trees to be.

The characteristic “melting” appearance of the Moreton Bay fig is due to its habit of dropping aerial roots from its branches … When its seeds land in the branch of a host tree it sends aerial, ‘strangler’ roots down the host trunk, eventually killing the host and standing alone.


Scary. Add to that the facts that (a) they’re usually pollinated by wasps, and (b) they produce figs (ech!), and all of a sudden these gentle giants don’t seem so gentle.

And the posing tourists would be none too happy to learn that our dog Chucky loves crawling around the roots looking for the perfect pooping spot (see diagram). And I’ve seen many, many other dogs do the same.

Don’t worry, we clean up after her!

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Pablo Pappy

    Chuckie MUST die ! I can’t believe God or Evolution, take your pick or flip a coin, has produced such a disgusting creature. Maybe we’ll get lucky and another asteroid will slam us to bits so we can do it better next time around.

  2. headbang8

    Hey, Pablo Pop, chill out!

    You know, Australian trees are actually quite nasty pieces of work. Not only is the MBF an utter pest in the forests it shares with other species, but the plain old eucalypt is an environmental vandal of the first order. The eucalypt needs a forest fire in order for its seed pods to open. After such a fire, it has no competition from other species, and takes over. I am sure much of southern California regrets importing eucalyptus.

Leave a Reply