Ficus Trees

Ficus drupacea commonly called Mysore or brown wooly fig

     I wanted to share with you some photos of two ficus trees that grow on the Edison and Ford winter estates.  I am not very familiar with ficus trees, and these two ficus trees were very large and impressive.

     Fig trees are part of the mulberry family.  There are 13 types of ficus trees throughout the estates.  The following four photos are different views of a ficus tree growing on Henry Ford's estate

root structure of the brown wooly fig
     Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone, all friends with one another, worked on research at Edison's botanical research lab in Ft. Myer's, Florida  for a source of natural rubber that could be grown in the US in the event of a shortage in the foreign supply.  I am guessing that Firestone and Ford had an interest in this, not only for other industrial enterprises, but also because rubber was needed for the Firestone tires that went on Henry Ford's cars.

a closer view of the roots

     Although ficus trees, which produce latex for rubber, were part of the research he conducted, Edison tested 17,000 plants and eventually discovered a source for latex in the plant goldenrod.  Through his plant hybridization, Edison was able to develop a 14-foot goldenrod!  This could be grown much more quickly.

This close up of the roots shows how tall they are, about two feet

There is a hole in this trunk which is used as shelter by various animals

Ficus benghalensis

     This is the Ficus benghalensis, commonly called a banyan tree, that Thomas Edison planted in 1925.  The tree, originally four feet tall, now covers an acre of land on the estate.  It is considered the largest in the continental United States.  The word "Banyan" often refers specifically to the Indian Banyan Ficus benghalensis, which is the national tree of the Republic of India.

Ficus benghalensis, closer view of same tree as above

     This banyan tree shows the aerial prop roots that grow into thick, woody trunks.  Older banyan trees spread out laterally using prop roots.

same tree, closer view

     The effect is like a forest covering a large area, every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the central trunk.  According to Wikipedia, this structure of interconnection inspired the name of the hierarchical computer network operating system Banyan VINES.

last week's snowfall

     We got slammed again with eight inches of snow last Monday, the sixth snowfall in six weeks.  And now we are facing another snowstorm Tuesday.  Another week, another snowstorm.  The weather forecasters promise that this upcoming storm is the end of the snow.  With April on the calendar next week,  I believe them.  Finally.

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