- Specie: Indian Rubber Tree (ficus elastica)
- Location: Slope besides pedestrian path that descends from the Kotewall Road entrance of HKU
Leviathan is a giant mythical, multi-limbed monster that rises from the depths of the ocean to threaten the world, which is just the perfect description of this sprawling Indian Rubber Tree just up the hill on the last group of camphors inside HKU‘s vast campus – except perhaps for the ocean dwelling and threatening all life on Earth parts.
When you first come across this tree, it is difficult to tell where it begins and where it ends. In fact, after spending minutes studying the root system and walking up and down the adjacent stairs, I still have little idea the true expanse of this tree. Along with the aerial roots that drop down from its limbs, this tree also has an extensive system of terrestrial roots, which spread out along the surface of the ground.
Doesn’t matter if you are descending or ascending the stairs, you first come across a few aerial roots that are typical of Indian Rubber Trees. Then as you approach the core system of roots, it appears that the tree is complete. But that is when you get to the other side of the main body, where you find another expansive system of aerial roots.
Whichever perspective you take to look at this tree, it’s impossible to get the entire picture. This is a tree that needs to be experienced, like a great gothic Cathedral with its slender buttresses and vaulted dome, or a monstrous alien insect creeping down the hill.
It’s pretty clear that the architect or designer of this tree had a flair for the dramatic. It also helps that it was allowed to grow and thrive in this secluded part of the HKU campus, to achieve its glorious form today.