Season 24 Episode 11

The Queen of Trees

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Apr 09, 2006 on PBS
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Episode Summary

The Queen of Trees
On a riverbank in Kenya, a seemingly ordinary fig tree actually supports a plethora of other species. For all that the tree provides for others, however, it could not survive without the help of the tiny fig wasp. The fig wasp is the fig tree's sole pollinator. Despite their tremendous differences, the fig tree and fig wasp are locked in an inseparable symbiotic relationship.moreless
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  • This is the most beautiful documentary I have ever seen. We saw The Queen of Trees on our Sony Bravia HDTV.

    This documentary captured the amazing relationships that formulate in the wild, all from what they call the "Queen" of all trees, the fig tree. They documented one tree in Africa that was over one hundred years old and lived along the shore of a lazy river. On the outside this tree doesn't look any different or any more spectacular than any other tree - but we soon learn that appearances are deceiving.

    It is an amazing portrayal of a life that we rarely get to see, and to one that we get to sympathize with. For example, with the fig wasps, we learn about an amazing journey their life brings them on. The male fig wasps have no wings, so their only purpose in life is to free the female wasps from their egg sacks within the fig fruits, fertilize them, and then crawl out of the fig fruit and fall to their death. It is a short life that is lived only for one purpose, and it was so moving to watch them work so diligently at the only thing they have ever known how to do.moreless
  • The relationship between fig trees and fig wasps is truly a sight to see. The compelling story of these two species and some remarkable footage combine to make "The Queen of Trees" one of the best Nature documentaries to air in quite some time.moreless

    Sex, drunkenness, treachery and murder are not things you would expect to find in a program about a fig tree, but "The Queen of Trees" has all of these and more. This documentary defies expectations and explores the dramatic lives of fig wasps and other species that depend on the fig tree, called "the Queen" because it is the center of life for numerous species. The focus is on the fascinating symbiotic relationship between fig wasps and fig trees. The documentary's remarkable footage, obtained who knows how, gives a penetratingly close-up view into the life of a fig wasp, from birth to mating to death, all the while helping to pollinate the fig tree. In addition to fig wasps, the documentary looks at elephants, giraffes, butterflies that become drunk from sipping fermenting figs, hornbills, ants, cicadas, snakes, monkeys and more. The New York Times had a glowing review of the show that praised, "The fact that we're able to see it at all (how does one get a camera inside a fig, anyway?) says a lot about this extraordinary film." Not only informative, this documentary is breathtaking fun for people of any age and background.moreless

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