By now it should be obvious that I like trees. This strangler fig at Mount Glorious in Queensland reminds me of a hook-nosed old man with gnarled fingers and sleepy eyes. It dominated the scenery, being the largest and clearly one of the oldest specimens in this section of the forest. But this tree has a sinister story. Several hundred years ago an animal, possibly a bird or a possum, dropped a fertilised seed high in the canopy of a mature syzygium. Feeding off rotting vegetation and trace minerals, that seed grew roots, which grew down the syzygium. Over a period of several years roots implanted themselves in the ground. Using the host tree as support, some of the roots eventually fused to create the characteristic buttresses. Soon the host tree began to die, its access to minerals, water and sunlight cut off by the fig. Over decades the host tree roted away leaving a hollow but very strong cathedral-like structure in its place. It’s a slow, but calculated act, and once a host tree has been parasitised by a fig it has little chance of survival. It seems brutal, but there is also some value here – the wood of a strangler tree is good for little other than supporting its branches and they’re horrible to chop down, therefore, loggers didn’t bother and tended to leave these sections of forest alone. Some of Queensland’s National and State Parks owe their survival to these killers.
This story might have been played out over many decades, but look beyond what you see today and you can find a complex story in almost anything. Take a concept familiar to you and turn it on it’s head. Write about it from a different perspective and see if you come up with anything useful.