The Cathedral Fig Tree: An Unlikely Killer

The infamous Cathedral Fig Tree — estimated to be more than 500 years old — stands tall in the Atherton Tablelands, located just an hour southwest of Cairns. This is not the oldest tree in the world, but it is spectacular:

I wish I was a monkey!

Yet, this story is about to take a dark turn: the fig tree pictured is truly a cold blooded murderer whose M.O. is strangling.

Blame it on a rough childhood or bad role models if you want, but this tree began its life innocently enough as a seed dropped on another tree’s “doorstep” by a bird passing through.

The fig seed matured, growing toxically dependent on its adoptive parent. All appeared well to the other trees in the neighborhood, but one never can be sure about other plants. Even the biggest warning sign, the appearance of tortured ants and aphids, was never traced back to a local ….

And then, on a stifling hot summer evening, the fig tree lost its leaves and strangled its parent to death like a Greek god with an oedipus complex — stealing a most coveted place in the forest.

The strangler fig remains today, a seemingly gentle giant, morbidly revered by tourists from around the world.

A little scale for consideration.

Life lesson: don’t underestimate trees.

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