(c) Jono Bateman 2008.
180 x 150cm.
Acrylic and paper on canvas.
The Strangler fig tree would have to be one of the most revered organism in the rainforest.
Considered to be a “keystone species”, this is a tree that punches well above its weight.
Not only is it a home and endless food source to countless birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and insects.it is also the ultimate structure that binds the rainforest’s fragile ecology together.
Her massive buttress roots that spread far and wide, embrace and nurture the fertile soil that feeds the rainforest.
Her endless hollows and crevasses that provide habitat and shelter to all living creatures.
Through green stained glass windows, from within the trunks protection, animals look out onto their world beyond.
Then there’s her towering canopy that spreads over the roof of the rainforest, providing a sanctuary for an abundance of seed carrying rainforest birds.
But it is her remarkable story of growing up with the support of the host tree that makes the strangler fig most remarkable.
From the hairlike roots that make their way down from a seed in the boughs of the host tree. The roots journey down to the soil where they build their strength to slowly wrap around their host. As time goes by, the embrace becomes all encompassing. Soon it is time for the host tree to yield to the power of the figs mighty embrace. After many years of supporting the young fig, the host tree is now slowly lowered to the ground.
In a final act of selflessness, the host tree still as more to give to the strangler fig.
The hosts decomposing body provides a concentration of organic material that converts into rich fertile soil. This final gift provides the nutrients the strangler fig needs to fulfil her place as the rainforest’s cathedral.
Many remnant and recovering rainforests of South East Queensland are benefitting from protection and rehabilitation, thanks to many volunteer land Care groups in the region. Look up local land care group in your area, or contact www.greenhills.org.au