T H I N G
by stefani greenwood
The Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus Macrophylla) is a strangler fig which means: ”Seed germination usually takes place in the canopy of a host tree and the seedling lives as an epiphyte until its roots establish contact with the ground. It then enlarges and strangles its host, eventually becoming a freestanding tree by itself. “(wikipedia) Because of this the MBF characteristically forms beautifully tangled buttresses up to 8 feet high. The tree is native to Australia and is named after Moreton Bay in Queensland. The trees bear edible fruit, but most sources say they aren’t that great and are dry. But since they are edible I say to each their own – try one and get back to me. An intriguing mutualism is found in the world of this tree – the fig is only able to be pollinated by the fig wasp, which in turn can only reproduce in fig flowers.
Don’t fret if you aren’t planning on visiting Australia soon because public parks and gardens with similar climates (California, Portugal, Sicily) love to feature these beautiful trees. In fact, in Santa Barbara (between State and Montecito Streets) one is able to visit the widest specimen in the United States. The span of the leaves from one end of the tree to the other is 160 feet and it provides over 21,000 square feet of shade. Wowza!