Carara National Park and
     the Strangler Fig
Costa Rica
This is a healthy tree in Carara National Park, a
rainforest monarch not under attack by the deadly
Strangler Fig.
This tree is doomed, with the Strangler Fig firmly
attached and shooting its vines upwards.  

I first met the Strangler Fig in Australia, where it can
be a massive tourist attraction, draped over a very
old fallen tree (the Curtain Fig).

The Strangler Fig only climbs by grabbing onto a
host tree.  When Strangler Fig vines reach the
canopy, they deploy to block any sunlight from
reaching the host tree.  The Strangler Fig keeps
growing stronger and larger while destroying the
host tree.  
Above observe how the Strangler Fig has totally
enveloped the host tree, barely visible in its darker
color.  A Strangler Fig this strong can stand on its
own and no longer needs the host tree.
As time passes host trees die and rot
away, until nothing is left of them.  Here
all that remains is Strangler Fig with a
gap in the middle, where the host tree
used to grow.  You can see right through
this opening left behind.

As in Australia I'm amazed and frightened
by the Strangler Fig's efficiency as a
killing machine, whose victims stand no
chance of survival.   
At this more advanced stage, you can see both
the Strangler Fig's tighter grip and the
helpless host tree.
If you have a high speed internet connection, watch
the Intrepid Berkeley Explorer's complete, free
video of this trip, "Rainforest Nature Nation", by
clicking on: