Photographer's Note

Ta Prohm is a temple built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Located approximately one kilometre east of Angkor Thom, it was built by King Jayavarman VII as a monastery and university. Unlike most of the other Angkor temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor's most popular temples with visitors. The two most dramatic varieties of trees there are silk-cotton trees and strangler figs.

There is one very popular Silk Cotton Tree in Ta Prohm. One can find many pictures of this tree on TE. A recent one shot by Danilo Martinez can be found here, and a very impressive older one by Dan Leung here. These trees are among the largest, reaching 30-40 m tall and up to 3 m trunk diameter. Looking at such a colosse it is hard to imagine that some other trees have developped a strategy to overcome them.

But here come the Strangler Figs. Their sticky seeds are dispersed by a variety of fruit-eating birds and bats and germinate high on the moist branches of other trees, sending numerous aerial roots to the ground. Each air root takes in nutrients and water from the air and host tree. Eventually the air roots grow to reach the ground and develop their own underground root system, independent of the host tree. At this point, the tree begins to grow very quickly, often covering the host tree with its own trunk and strangling it. The host tree is forced to compete for water and light and prevented from growing by the stranglers hold on its trunk. In time the host tree dies and rots away. The strangler fig does not collapse however and continues to exist as a hollow tubular lattice which many forest animals use as shelter.

This strangler fig picture has been taken in Ta Prohm. It is very famous as well because Lara Croft was filmed going under this door in the Tomb Raider movie. Another picture of a strangler fig, in Ta Som, was posted recently by Angshu here.

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Additional Photos by JM Hullot (vincz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2604 W: 77 N: 5252] (19113)
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