Island-wide: Invasive Indian laurels produce a fig like fruits which are eaten by birds and dispersed across the island. The trees are known as strangling figs because they are often seen growing on other trees and threated the life of their host. *Photo supplied
Island-wide: Invasive Indian laurels produce a fig like fruits which are eaten by birds and
dispersed across the island. The trees are known as strangling figs because they are often seen growing on other trees and threated the life of their host. *Photo supplied

FRIDAY, JUNE 15: The Indian laurel is native to Southeast Asia and is part of the fig family.

It was introduced to Bermuda as an ornamental tree for gardens and did not become a problem until the 1980’s when a pollinating wasp was accidentally introduced to the island.

The Indian laurel produces a fig-like fruit that contains about 150 seeds and it can grow up to 60ft in height.

A single large tree may produce 100,000 fruit, which are eaten by birds and dispersed across the island.

They are also known as ‘strangling figs’ because they are often seen growing on other trees and seriously threaten their host’s survival.

Bio diversity officer Alison Copeland said: “The laurel surrounds the host tree with its own roots and may grow large enough to pull down the host tree with its weight.

“Indian laurels have a wide spreading leaf canopy, so they can also kill their host by growing over the top of it and shading it from the sun.

They can be seen island-wide growing out of walls, roofs, tanks, gutters and sidewalks.

“Ants and birds often carry the seeds into cracks and holes, leading to trees growing in some unlikely places.”

The huge root system of this plant can be extremely damaging to buildings and stonework and it is considered a threat to Bermuda’s buildings as well as the natural environment.

Ms Copeland added: “The terrestrial conservation crew of the Department of Conservation Services regularly cull Indian laurels off roadside trees, particularly cedars, and from
nature reserves.

“In recent years, large laurels have sprouted up in places where they are difficult to reach and remove, like the middle of Paget Marsh.

“Impressive specimens can also be seen in hard to access places like the quarries in Warwick, and on cliffs and roadside rock cuts island wide.

“The public are urged to remove Indian Laurels whenever they see them on their own property, particularly the large fruiting trees.”