Ficus cucurbitina strangler drop down root (Left) next to the trunk of a much larger host tree Artocarpus elasticus (Right), at Deramakot Forest Reserve in Sabah.
Note that Ficus cucurbitina is not a true strangler and normally only drops down a single supporting root to the ground leaving the host tree to carry most of the weight. When the host tree dies, the Ficus is unlikely to be self supporting and will therefore die with the host. See another example at Maliau in Sabah.
All photos by Chun Xing Wong of 1StopBorneo Wildlife.
Note that the Ficus cucurbitina has started spreading branches sideways long before it reached the top of the Artocarpus so that the leaves at the top of the Artocarpus still have access to plenty of sunlight.
This may be an evolutionary strategy to allow the Artocarpus host to stay alive as long as possible. If the Artocarpus dies the Ficus cucurbitina will die with it.
This may also explain why Ficus cucurbitina normally only drops down a single root – so that it does not starve the host tree to death. If F. cucurbitina dropped down multiple roots such as with Ficus microcarpa or Ficus virens the host tree would soon be starved to death.