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.