Characteristics of Florida Strangler Fig Tree (Ficus aurea) in the Wild

Ficus aurea
Florida strangler fig or Strangler fig (Ficus aurea) is a species of tree in the family Moraceae native to Florida, the northern and western Caribbean, southern Mexico, and Central America south to Panama. The specific nickname aurea was applied by the English botanist Thomas Nuttall who described the species in 1846.

The Florida strangler fig is a strangler fig, whose fruit germinates on the trunk or branches of a host tree and lives as an epiphyte until its roots touch the ground. After that, it enlarges and strangles its host to death, eventually becoming a tree that stands on its own.

This tree provides habitat, food, and shelter for several tropical life including birds, mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates. Florida strangler figs are also used in traditional medicine, for living hedges, ornamental trees, and as bonsai subjects.

 

Characteristics of Florida Strangler Fig Leaf

Ficus aurea Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/sharonoutside

The size and shape of the leaves vary from tree to tree, generally being oval or elliptical with a wedge to a rounded base. While other shapes such as heart or oval with a round base.

 

Characteristics of Florida Strangler Fig Fruit

Ficus aurea Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/joemdo

The fruit is a fig, about 1 cm in size, in pairs, green when unripe and turning yellow when ripe.

The fruit of Ficus aurea was edible and was used for food by Native Americans and early settlers in Florida.

 

Characteristics of Florida Strangler Fig Tree

Ficus aurea Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/kstub

The Florida strangler fig is a tree that can grow to a height of 30 meters. Growth is fast and in an epiphytic manner.

Although young trees are often grown as ornamental trees, older ones are considered difficult to maintain due to adventitious roots growing from the branches and are not recommended for small areas.

 

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