Historical buildings, commercial buildings and private homes alike need constant maintenance. One of the threats to look out for are fig trees establishing themselves in the tiniest of cracks. If you look carefully at the picture below, you will see a fig tree growing on the wall of a commercial building in Port Elizabeth.

This one is growing at the base of the Martello Tower in Fort Beaufort.

An innocuous looking plant such as this one, growing next to a cannon on the walls of Fort Frederick in Port Elizabeth, has already established a long network of roots by the time it is noticed.

Before long it will look like this

Look at the roots emanating from this specimen growing on another wall of Fort Frederick.

Note the damage being caused to the roof of the former officer’s quarters at Post Retief.

This is how those threads of roots can swell with time to push brickwork asunder.

Here is an example of how a tiny seedling, such as we saw in the first photograph, can destroy a building unless something is done to curb its rampant growth.



  1. Despite the damage to the building, I love the fig in that lowest photo – magnificent! It’s really a work of art in its own right. The only fig I’ve ever encountered close up was grown by my mum and it got to about 6′ tall (trained up against a garden wall) so I didn’t know that in its natural habitat it can become so unmanageable.


    • These are indigenous figs – we do not eat the tiny fruit as they tend to be infested by ants and worms, although they are relished by a wide variety of birds. They grow into enormous trees with widespread canopies.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That is true of so many plants we see growing in the wild. I marvel at the beautiful yellow gazanias, for example, that seem to thrive on the verges of some of our main roads – yet turn up their toes in the garden!

      Liked by 1 person

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