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Florida strangler fig

Introduction of Florida strangler fig

            Scientific name - Ficus aurea

Binomially known as ficusaurea this tree is a long growing tree that reaches the heights of 30 m that is 98 feet high. Florida strangler fig is a tree that belongs to the Moraceae familywhich is native to the United States, in a state called Florida. This plant can also be spotted in places like Northern and Western Caribbean islands, Southern Mexico, and is widespread across Central America and down South to Panama. The AppellationAurea was coined by an English botanist named Thomas Nutall who was also the one who described the specie of this plant in the year 1846.

florida strangler fig 2

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Physical attributes of the tree

This is one of those monoecious plant that is capable of bearing both male and female flowers on the same plant. This means that this plant is independent and does not require another plant for its propagation and reproduction needs.

Describing the size and shape of the leaves is inconstant and changes invariably. The size of the leaves are usually lesser than 10 cm that comes up to 4 cm long this is restricted to only some plants as others have leaves that are larger than the size. Talking about the shape of the leaves, it varies from leaf to leaf. While some leaves are oblong or elliptic with a wedge shaped rounded base, the other leaves have a heart shaped leaves that go well with rounded base of leaf base.

Fig Aurea has paired figs that are green and unripe which turns yellow as they undergo the process of ripening. The size of the fig differs in size as it grows to the size of 0.6-0.8 cm that is converted to 0.2 -0.3 inches, some grow to the size of 1 cm [0.4 in], or 1.0-1.2 cm [0.4-0.5 in] in diameter). Figs are usually sessile in nature, sessile term is used when plants do not have the characteristics of self-locomotion. They are immobile in nature. In northern parts of Mesoamerica, figs are borne on short stalks known as peduncles.

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Growth of Ficusaurea

This tree is accounted as one of the most fast growing tree. Ficusaurea is a hemieepiphyte; these hemiepiphyte trees spend half of their life cycle as an epiphyte. Epipphytes are trees that root and cling on to other plants or non living objects. This is only during the first stage of their lives that they anchor themselves in a root plant. During its secondary stage it begins life rooted in the soil. Thus as the name suggest it is also known as strangler fig as the roots fuse to encircle the host tree as if strangling it. This eventually results in the death of the host tree as it bars all sorts of growth and griddles the tree. After the hurricane Andrew in the year 1992, strangle figs are regenerated from suckers to an up gradation to standing trees.

florida strangler fig 3

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Cultivation and propagation of fig trees

Regardless of the fact that ficusaurea is an opportunistic tree, it has fruits that are largely attractive in nature. That make them a highly cultivated tree through yards. They can spread as wide as 150 feet tall in their native land, trees that are cultivated for commercial purpose grow to be as tall as 30 feet in height. This differs on various species of the tree.

They form an interesting structure of a tree garden because of its dense canopies and mutli stemmed trunks that are broad in nature. The leaves hanging on these canopies are bright green in colour and are a delight to watch.

These plants grow the best given that conditions are favourable. They need full to partial sun shade, also an abundant fill of water given once in every week or two. They are very flexible when it comes to soil type and thrives the best in moist, well-drained soil which is like highly alkaline to slightly acidic pH levels. This helps them retain moisture level and is very useful during hot summer season. They do not restrain heavy pruning and behave completely fine when their growth is controlled by the same. Figs grown out of the container are the only ones that need fertilizing when compared to other sorts.

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Uses and benefits of Ficusaurea

The fruit of ficusaurea popularly known as strangler fig is one of the enjoyed fruits by many. They were enjoyed as a treat by many early settlers and local people of Florida during its early years. It is still consumed by many people as it is natively found there. Apart from its popular fruit, the latex derived from the plant is used as an ingredient to make chewing gum. The roots of the tree are put to use for making lashings, arrows, bowstrings and fishing lines. Going the natural dye way, this fruit is used to make rose colored dye. Adding a few more to many of its purpose this tree is mainly spotted on dairy farms in places such as La Cruz, Canitas and Santa Elena in Costa Rica, since they are often secure when forest is rehabilitated to pasture land.

Farmers have admitted that this specie of plant is used in creating fences to their fields, it makes a good source of fire woods and also acts as food source or fodder for many gazing animals and mammals.

This tree is sometimes also used as an ornamental plant in wide spread areas. While the younger plants are tame and suitable for this purpose the older plants turn out to be difficult and hard to manage. Thus causing structural damage.

This power pact tree is not just helping us humans with it's gift of fruit but it is also acting as a nature's blessing by being a habitation for many animals, birds and insects.

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