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Dense and thick vegetation in the tropical forests makes for hard living conditions for species. All species are engaged in a permanent competition to reach sunlight. The choker fig trees have developed a strategy of their own to dominate other species in this competition.
The seeds of choker fig trees are often left in bird excrement on the top branches of other trees. From this position the fig tree starts to grow aerial roots down to the ground, while its branches grow upwards to catch more light. The process goes on until a trunk is formed thick enough to bear the branches. At this point, the fig tree has generally strangled the host tree so much that it dies.
What all fig trees have in common is their ability to grow fruit, which animals love to feed on. In traditional medicine, the bark mixed with hot water is used against coughs and hypertension and the sap of the plant heals wounds. The wood can be used as fuel. The trunk, which has remarkable patterns, is used to decorate houses after the plant has died.
In spite of its name, the choker fig tree plays a vital role in the ecosystem. This is because the fig tree is one of the rare tree species that bears fruit all year round. Thus, one single tree can be home and provide food for many birds and mammals.