Usually, a fig tree only requires a soil depth of 1-1.5 meters. The root network of a single tree can be several thousand meters long, in this respect, the root of a regular fig tree can hardly compete. Nevertheless, this very tree root tops another record list because no other plant has roots that penetrate deeper into the soil than the fig tree, which is native to South Africa.
Sometimes we wonder about plants and trees that grow and thrive in extremely unreal and dry areas. We are unable to comprehend the connection of the plant and the harsh climatic conditions above the surface of the earth, yet, the plant still grows. The scorching heat and long periods without clouds and rain supply do not automatically mean the absence of growing flora. We only recognize the tip of the iceberg, most of the flora remains hidden from us, since it penetrates deep into the earth.
Water supply from a depth of 120 meters
The root’s urge to water is unstoppable because only the water supply enables the fruit-bearing part of the tree on the earth’s surface to survive. There is a cave system in South Africa known as the Echo Caves and there, the path of the plants through the underground can be traced very well. The single root runs through the caves like a water pipe, then disappears back into the ground until the groundwater or another water source is finally reached. When the time comes and water is found, the long journey ends.
This particular fig tree has a root with the deepest measurement of 120 meters which is massive for a tree root. It shows the trees’ fight for survival and success. Along with that, the time of this trip, which is the time it took to grow to a record-breaking length, is also extremely impressive. It took a full 70 years to grow 120 meters looking for a water source. The search for the source of the water ended, and from then on the root pumps about 25 liters of water a day all the way up to the fig tree, which defies the heat and drought in the dry environment of South Africa.