Trees or shrubs, erect, scandent, or strangling, that produce abundant milky latex when wounded. Leaves alternate, simple or lobate, coriaceous; petioles short or elongate; stipules deciduous, elongate, forming a conical hood that protects the apical meristem. Flowers unisexual, minute, produced in the interior of an axillary inflorescence, globose or ellipsoid, formed by an enlarged receptacle (syconium); calyx reduced, membranaceous; corolla absent. Staminate flowers with 2 stamens; pistillate flower with a unilocular ovary with one apical ovule. Fruit a syconium formed by an enlarged receptacle, globose or ellipsoid, containing numerous achenes in the interior. A genus of about 800 species, of pantropical distribution.
hypophyllous, colonial Aspidioterus nerii sucks sap of live leaf of Ficus
In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / spot causer
colony of Cercospora dematiaceous anamorph of Cercospora bolleana causes spots on live Ficus
Foodplant / sap sucker
hypophyllous Coccus hesperidum sucks sap of live leaf (near veins) of Ficus
Remarks: season: 1-12
Foodplant / pathogen
Fig Mosaic virus infects and damages live, blotched leaf of Ficus
Foodplant / feeds on
Fusarium anamorph of Fusarium urticearum feeds on Ficus
Foodplant / gall
Gynaikothrips ficorum causes gall of live, rolled leaf of Ficus
Foodplant / gall
Heterodera fici causes gall of cysted root of Ficus
Foodplant / feeds on
Phytonemus pallidus feeds on live Ficus
Foodplant / sap sucker
Pseudococcus sucks sap of live green part of Ficus
Foodplant / saprobe
larva of Psilota anthracina is saprobic on sap run of Ficus
Foodplant / sap sucker
Saissetia coffeae sucks sap of live leaf of Ficus
Evolution and Systematics
The mutually beneficial relationship between figs and fig wasps is maintained via sanctions for deviating behavior.
"Theory predicts that mutualisms should be vulnerable to invasion by cheaters, yet mutualistic interactions are both ancient and diverse. What prevents one partner from reaping the benefits of the interaction without paying the costs? Using field experiments and observations, we examined factors affecting mutualism stability in six fig tree–fig wasp species pairs. We experimentally compared the fitness of wasps that did or did not perform their most basic mutualistic service, pollination. We found host sanctions that reduced the fitness of non-pollinating wasps in all derived, actively pollinated fig species (where wasps expend time and energy pollinating), but not in the basal, passively pollinated fig species (where wasps do not). We further screened natural populations of pollinators for wasp individuals that did not carry pollen ('cheaters'). Pollen-free wasps occurred only in actively pollinating wasp species, and their prevalence was negatively correlated with the sanction strength of their host species. Combined with previous studies, our findings suggest that (i) mutualisms can show coevolutionary dynamics analogous to those of 'arms races' in overtly antagonistic interactions; (ii) sanctions are critical for long-term mutualism stability when providing benefits to a host is costly, and (iii) there are general principles that help maintain cooperation both within and among species." (Jandér & Herre 2010:1481)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Jandér KC; Herre EA. 2010. Host sanctions and pollinator cheating in the fig tree–fig wasp mutualism. Proc. R. Soc. B. 277(1687): 1481-1488.
- 2010. Punishment important in plant-pollinator relationship. Science Daily [Internet],
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimen Records: 1980
Specimens with Sequences: 2092
Specimens with Barcodes: 1270
Species With Barcodes: 375
Public Records: 715
Public Species: 165
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ficus aff.citrifolia-pertusa
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ficus aff.maxima
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ficus Espinoza5712
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ficus Espinoza5694
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ficus Espinoza5693
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ficus sp.
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
A Banyan (also Banian) is a fig that starts its life as an epiphyte (a plant growing on another plant) when its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices on a host tree (or on structures like buildings and bridges). "Banyan" often refers specifically to the Indian banyan or Ficus benghalensis, which is the national tree of the Republic of India, though the term has been generalized to include all figs that share a characteristic life cycle, and systematically to refer to the subgenus Urostigma.
Like other fig species (including the common edible fig Ficus carica), banyans bear multiple fruit in structures called syncarps. The Ficus syncarp supplies shelter and food for fig wasps and in turn, the trees are dependent on the fig wasps for pollination.
The seeds of banyans are dispersed by fruit-eating birds. The seeds are small, and most banyans grow in forests, so that a plant germinating from a seed that lands on the ground is unlikely to survive. However, many seeds land on branches and stems of trees or on buildings. When those seeds germinate they send roots down towards the ground, and may envelop part of the host tree or building structure, giving banyans the casual name of "strangler fig". The "strangling" growth habit is found in a number of tropical forest species, particularly of the genus Ficus, that compete for light.  Any Ficus species showing this habit may be termed a strangler fig.
The leaves of the banyan tree are large, leathery, glossy green and elliptical in shape. Like most fig-trees, the leaf bud is covered by two large scales. As the leaf develops the scales fall. Young leaves have an attractive reddish tinge.
Older banyan trees are characterized by their aerial prop roots that grow into thick woody trunks which, with age, can become indistinguishable from the main trunk. Old trees can spread out laterally, using these prop roots to cover a wide area. In some species the effect is for the props to develop into a sort of forest covering a considerable area, every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the central trunk. The topology of this structure of interconnection inspired the name of the hierarchical computer network operating system Banyan VINES.
In a banyan that envelops a support tree the mesh of roots growing round the support tree eventually applies very considerable pressure and commonly kills the tree. Such an enveloped dead tree eventually rots away so that the banyan becomes a "columnar tree" with a hollow central core. In jungles such hollows are particularly desirable shelters to many animals.
In the Gujarati language, banya means "grocer/merchant," not "tree." The Portuguese picked up the word to refer specifically to Hindu merchants and passed it along to the English as early as 1599 with the same meaning. By 1634, English writers began to tell of the banyan tree, a tree under which Hindu merchants would conduct their business. The tree provided a shaded place for a village meeting or for merchants to sell their goods. Eventually "banyan" became the name of the tree itself.
The original banyan, the species F. benghalensis, can grow into a giant tree covering several hectares. Over time, the name became generalized to all strangler figs of the Urostigma subgenus. There are many banyan species, including:
- Ficus microcarpa, which is native from Sri Lanka through New Caledonia and is a significant invasive species elsewhere.
- The Central American banyan (Ficus pertusa) is native to Central America and northern South America, from southern Mexico south to Paraguay.
- The shortleaf fig (Ficus citrifolia) is native to southern Florida, the Caribbean Islands, Central America and South America south to Paraguay. One theory is that the Portuguese name for F. citrofolia, "Os Barbados", gave Barbados its name
- The Florida strangler fig (Ficus aurea) is also native to southern Florida and the Caribbean Islands, and distinguished from the above by its coarser leaf venation.
- The Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla) and Port Jackson Fig (Ficus rubiginosa) are other related species.
Religion and mythology
Banyan trees figure prominently in several Asian and Pacific religions and myths, including:
- In the Bhagavat Gita Krishna said "There is a banyan tree which has its roots upward and its branches down, and the Vedic hymns are its leaves. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas." (Bg 15.1) Here the material world is described as a tree whose roots are upwards and branches are below. We have experience of a tree whose roots are upward: if one stands on the bank of a river or any reservoir of water, he can see that the trees reflected in the water are upside down. The branches go downward and the roots upward. Similarly, this material world is a reflection of the spiritual world. The material world is but a shadow of reality. In the shadow there is no reality or substantiality, but from the shadow we can understand that there is substance and reality.
- The banyan tree is also considered sacred and is called "Vat Vriksha" in Sanskrit, in Telugu known as: 'మర్రి వృక్షము ' ; Marri Vrikshamu and in Tamil known as: 'ஆல மரம்' ; Ala Maram. The god Shiva as Dakshinamurthy is nearly always depicted sitting in silence under the banyan with rishis at his feet. It is thought of as perfectly symbolizing eternal life due to its seemingly unending expansion.
- In modern parlance in the Hindi language, it is known as Bargad, Vatavriksh, and Barh.
- In Buddhism's Pali canon, the banyan (Pali: nigrodha) is referenced numerous times. Typical metaphors allude to the banyan's epiphytic nature, likening the banyan's supplanting of a host tree as comparable to the way sensual desire (kāma) overcomes humans.
- The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees (林村許願樹) are banyan, and are a popular shrine in Hong Kong. They are located near the Tin Hau Temple in Lam Tsuen.
- In many stories of Philippine Mythology, the banyan, (locally known as balete or balite) is said to be home to a variety of spirits (diwata and engkanto) and demon-like creatures (among the Visayans, specifically, the dili ingon nato, meaning "those not like us"). Maligno (Evil spirits, from Spanish for 'malign') associated with it include the kapre (a giant), duwende (dwarves), and the tikbalang (a creature whose top half is a horse and whose bottom half is human). Children at a young age are taught never to point at a fully mature banyan tree for fear of offending the spirits that dwell within them, most especially when they are new to the place. Filipinos would always utter a respectful word or two to the spirits in the banyan tree when they are near one, walking near or around it to avoid any harm. Nearly every Filipino believes that provoking the spirits in a banyan tree can cause one great harm, illness, misfortune, untold suffering and death.
- In Guam, 'Chamorro people believe in tales of taotaomona, duendes and other spirits. Taotaomona are spirits of the ancient Chamorro that act as guardians to banyan trees.
- Thimmamma Marrimanu is the name of a Banyan tree in Anantapur district, located about 35 km from town Kadiri in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is present in the Indian Botanical Gardens and is more than 200 years old. It is reported to be the world's biggest tree with a canopy of 19,107 square metres. Its branches spreads over 8 acres, and hence was recorded as the biggest tree in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1989
- One of the largest trees, named the Great Banyan, is found in Kolkata in India. It is said to be more than 250 years old. Another such tree, named Doda Alada Mara, is found in the outskirts of Bangalore. Doda Alada Mara has a spread of around 3 acres.
- One of the most famous of banyan trees was planted on the island of Kabirvad in Gujarat. Records show that the Kabirvad tree is more than 300 years old.
- Maui, Hawaii has a Banyan tree planted by William Owen Smith in 1873 in Lahaina's Courthouse Square. It has grown to cover two-thirds of an acre.
- In rural India many villages and towns have a traffic circle, a bus stop and a community gathering place around a big old banyan tree. At night many people come to sit, relax and chat around it. There is usually a small deity placed and worshipped at its foot.
- Ta Prohm in the Angkor Wat temple complex of Cambodia is well known for the giant banyans that grow up, around and through its walls.
- Several banyans can be found near downtown Hilo, Hawaii. Some of them were planted by celebrities throughout the 20th century and form Banyan Drive.
- Banyans also occur in areas of Australia such as the Daintree rainforest in Queensland's far north. Well known is the Curtain Fig Tree on the Atherton Tablelands.
- The first banyan tree in the continental U.S. was planted by Thomas Alva Edison in Fort Myers, Florida in an attempt with Henry Ford to find a more cost-effective way to produce rubber for car tires. The tree, originally only 4 feet (1.2 m) tall, now covers an acre of land on the estate.
- One large Banyan tree called Kalpabata is there inside the premises of Jagannath Temple of Puri. It is considered sacred by the devotees and is supposed to be more than 500 years old.
- Famous Banyan Treea in Chennai where Theosophical Society is established. Also called as Ala Maram 
- A large Banyan tree (Which kind is uncertain by this author) lives in Cypress Gardens, at the Legoland theme park located in Winter Haven, Florida. It was planted in 1939 in a 5-gallon bucket. 
- Brian Aldiss, in his novel Hothouse, describes a future Earth where a single huge banyan covers half of the globe, because individual trees discover the ability to join together, as well as drop adventitious roots.
- In Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses, the village of Titlipur is built around an enormous banyan tree, whose roots cover an area "half a mile in diameter." The tree is intrinsic to the village with some villagers building shelters in it and others living in the foliage.
- In Arthur C. Clarke's novel, 2010: Odyssey Two, the banyan tree is used several times as a reference to describe a fictional life form native to Europa (moon).
- In The Coral Island R. M. Ballantyne had Jack Martin give a brief but informative description of a banyan tree they found on the island. This description was the first introduction that many British children had to such a concept.
- Cambodian author Vaddey Ratner alludes to a myth about the tree in her 2012 novel "In the Shadow of the Banyan," the story of a child's experience in the horrors of the Cambodian Genocide. 
- In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, in the arena of the 75th Games, the lightning tree is a banyan.
- The Banyan tree is the national Tree of India.
- The Banyan is part of the coat of arms of Indonesia. It is meant to symbolize the unity of Indonesia - one country with many far-flung roots. As a giant tree, it also symbolizes power. Soeharto used it as a logo for his party, the Golongan Karya (Golkar), taking advantage of the deeply rooted belief of his fellow-countrymen and women in the sacred (sakti) nature of the banyan
- The Economist magazine features an opinion column covering topics pertaining to Asia named "Banyan".
- The Banyan Tree is the name of one of the most fiendishly difficult rooms in the 1984 ZX Spectrum game Jet Set Willy. 
- "National Tree". Government of India Official website. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- Note usage of "Banyan" versus "banyan" in PDF (61.0 KiB) by Vidya R. Athreya, Nature Watch, July 1997; also "Aerial-rooting banyan trees", washington.edu
- Zhekun, Zhou & Michael G. Gilbert (2003) Flora of China (Moraceae) 5: 21-73. Harvard.edu
- Serventy, V. 1984. Australian Native Plants. Victoria: Reed Books.
- Light in the rainforest 1992 Tropical topics. Vol 1 No. 5 QLD.gov.au
- The Lovely Plants.
- Yule, Henry, Sir. Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. New ed. edited by William Crooke, B.A. London: J. Murray, 1903.
- Taipei Times, "Small is the old big", September 22, 2005
- T.W. Rhys Davids & William Stede (1921-25), Pali-English Dictionary (Chipstead: Pali Text Society), p. 355, entry "Nigrodha," retrieved 22 November 2008 from University of Chicago.
- See, for instance, the automated search of the SLTP ed. of the Pali Canon for the root "nigrodh" which results in 243 matches, retrieved 22 November 2008 at Bodhgayanews.net.
- See, e.g., SN 46.39, "Trees [Discourse]," trans. by Bhikkhu Bodhi (2000), Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Saṃyutta Nikāya (Boston: Wisdom Publications), pp. 1593, 1906 n. 81; and, Sn 2.5 v. 271 or 272 (Fausböll, 1881, p. 46).
- Balete Tree
- Guampdn.com, Ghost stories: Taotaomona, duendes and other spirits inhabit Guam
- John R. K. Clark (2001). Hawai'i place names: shores, beaches, and surf sites. University of Hawaii Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-8248-2451-8.
- "In the shade of the banyan tree". The Economist. 8 April 2009.
Thimmamma Marrimanu is the name of a Banyan tree – marri means banyan and manu means tree in Telugu – in Anantapur district, located about 25 km from town Kadiri in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It has branches spreads over 2.5 acres, with a canopy of 19,107 square metres and recorded as the biggest tree in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1989. A small temple dedicated to Thimmamma lies under the tree. An account of this lady in Telugu kept at the shrine reveals that she was the daughter of a Setti Balija couple Sennakka Venkatappa and Mangamma, born in AD 1394. She was married to a Bala Veerayya who died in 1434, and Thimmamma committed Sati. The banyan tree is believed to have sprouted at the place where she ascended the funeral pyre. The people of this area strongly believe that if a childless couple worship 'Thimmamma' they will have a child the very next year. A big jatara is conducted here on the day of Shivaratri festival when thousands of people flock here to worship 'Thimmamma' on this occasion.
The tree was named after a righteous lady Thimmamma, who served her ailing husband devotedly. It was named 'Thimmamma' in memory of that lady. She later sacrificed herself on her husband's pyre. It is believed that the pole in north-east direction of pyre grew into this tree.
This big tree was first noticed and was explored to the world by Sri Regret Iyer (Sathyanarayana Iyer), freelance journalist & photographer from Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Later he made all efforts to see this large tree canopy enter the Guinness Book of World Records. His name has been included in the Book of World Records in this regard.
- C. Sudhakar; R. Suguna Kumari (2008). Women and forestry. The Associated Publishers. ISBN 978-81-8429-081-3. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- Lavanya Vemsani (31 October 2006). Hindu and Jain mythology of Balarāma: change and continuity in an early Indian cult. Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 978-0-7734-5723-2. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- Peter Matthews; Michelle Dunkley McCarthy; Mark (CON) Young (October 1993). The Guinness Book of Records 1994. Facts on File. ISBN 978-0-8160-2645-6. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- India today. Living Media India Pvt. Ltd. 1992. p. 53. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- SAYEED, VIKHAR AHMED. "Arboreal wonder". Frontline (magazine). Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- "Thimmamma Marri Maanu".
- Various. Tourist Guide to Andhra Pradesh. Sura Books. pp. 44–. ISBN 978-81-7478-176-5. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- Various (2005). Tourist Guide to South India. Sura Books. pp. 295–. ISBN 978-81-7478-175-8. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
Ficus (// or //) is a genus of about 850 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes and hemiepiphytes in the family Moraceae. Collectively known as fig trees or figs, they are native throughout the tropics with a few species extending into the semi-warm temperate zone. The Common Fig (F. carica) is a temperate species native to southwest Asia and the Mediterranean region (from Afghanistan to Portugal), which has been widely cultivated from ancient times for its fruit, also referred to as figs. The fruit of most other species are also edible though they are usually of only local economic importance or eaten as bushfood. However, they are extremely important food resources for wildlife. Figs are also of considerable cultural importance throughout the tropics, both as objects of worship and for their many practical uses.
Ficus is a pan-tropical genus of trees, shrubs and vines occupying a wide variety of ecological niches; most are evergreen, but some deciduous species are endemic to areas outside of the tropics and to higher elevations. Fig species are characterized by their unique inflorescence and distinctive pollination syndrome, which utilizes wasp species belonging to the Agaonidae family for pollination.
The specific identification of many of the species can be difficult, but figs as a group are relatively easy to recognize. Many have aerial roots and a distinctive shape or habit, and their fruits distinguish them from other plants. The fig fruit is an enclosed inflorescence, sometimes referred to as a syconium, an urn-like structure lined on the inside with the fig's tiny flowers. The unique fig pollination system, involving tiny, highly specific wasps, known as fig wasps that enter via ostiole these sub-closed inflorescences to both pollinate and lay their own eggs, has been a constant source of inspiration and wonder to biologists. Finally, there are three vegetative traits that together are unique to figs. All figs possess a white to yellowish latex, some in copious quantities; the twig has paired stipules or a circular stipule scar if the stipules have fallen off; and the lateral veins at the base of the leaf are steep, forming a tighter angle with the midrib than the other lateral veins, a feature referred to as "tri-veined".
There are no unambiguous older fossils of Ficus. However, current molecular clock estimates indicate that Ficus is a relatively ancient genus being at least 60 million years old, and possibly as old as 80 million years. The main radiation of extant species, however, may have taken place more recently, between 20 and 40 million years ago.
Some better-known species that represent the diversity of the genus include the Common Fig, which is a small temperate deciduous tree whose fingered fig leaf is well known in art and iconography; the Weeping Fig (F. benjamina) a hemi-epiphyte with thin tough leaves on pendulous stalks adapted to its rain forest habitat; the rough-leaved sandpaper figs from Australia; the Creeping Fig (F. pumila), a vine whose small, hard leaves form a dense carpet of foliage over rocks or garden walls.
Moreover, figs with different plant habits have undergone adaptive radiation in different biogeographic regions, leading to very high levels of alpha diversity. In the tropics, it is quite common to find that Ficus is the most species-rich plant genus in a particular forest. In Asia as many as 70 or more species can co-exist. Ficus species richness declines with an increase in latitude in both hemispheres.
Ecology and uses
Figs are keystone species in many rainforest ecosystems. Their fruit are a key resource for some frugivores including fruit bats, capuchin monkeys, langurs and mangabeys. They are even more important for some birds. Asian barbets, pigeons, hornbills, fig-parrots and bulbuls are examples of taxa that may almost entirely subsist on figs when these are in plenty. Many Lepidoptera caterpillars feed on fig leaves, for example several Euploea species (Crow butterflies), the Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus), the Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes), the Brown Awl (Badamia exclamationis), and Chrysodeixis eriosoma, Choreutidae and Copromorphidae moths. The Citrus long-horned beetle (Anoplophora chinensis), for example, has larvae that feed on wood, including that of fig trees; it can become a pest in fig plantations. Similarly, the Sweet Potato Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) is frequently found as a pest on figs grown as potted plants and is spread through the export of these plants to other localities. For a list of other diseases common to fig trees, see List of foliage plant diseases (Moraceae).
The wood of fig trees is often soft and the latex precludes its use for many purposes. It was used to make mummy caskets in Ancient Egypt. Certain fig species (mainly F. cotinifolia, F. insipida and F. padifolia) are traditionally used in Mesoamerica to produce papel amate (Nahuatl: āmatl). Mutuba (F. natalensis) is used to produce barkcloth in Uganda. Pou (F. religiosa) leaves' shape inspired one of the standard kbach rachana, decorative elements in Cambodian architecture. Indian Banyan (F. bengalensis) and the Indian Rubber Plant, as well as other species, have use in herbalism.
Figs have figured prominently in some human cultures. There is evidence that figs, specifically the Common Fig (F. carica) and Sycamore Fig (Ficus sycomorus), were among the first – if not the very first – plant species that were deliberately bred for agriculture in the Middle East, starting more than 11,000 years ago. Nine subfossil F. carica figs dated to about 9400–9200 BCE were found in the early Neolithic village Gilgal I (in the Jordan Valley, 13 km north of Jericho). These were a parthenogenesis type and thus apparently an early cultivar. This find predates the first known cultivation of grain in the Middle East by many hundreds of years.
Cultural and spiritual significance
Fig trees have profoundly influenced culture through several religious traditions. Among the more famous species are the Sacred Fig tree (Pipal, Bodhi, Bo, or Po, Ficus religiosa) and the Banyan Fig (Ficus benghalensis). The oldest living plant of known planting date is a Ficus religiosa tree known as the Sri Maha Bodhi planted in the temple at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka by King Tissa in 288 BCE. The common fig is one of the two sacred trees of Islam, and there is a sura in Quran named "The Fig" or At-Tin (سوره تین). In East Asia, figs are important in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. The Buddha is traditionally held to have found bodhi (enlightenment) while meditating under a Sacred Fig (F. religiosa). The same species was Ashvattha, the "world tree" of Hinduism. The Plaksa Pra-sravana was said to be a fig tree between the roots of which the Sarasvati River sprang forth; it is usually held to be a Sacred Fig but more probably seems to be a Wavy-leaved Fig (F. infectoria). The Common Fig tree is cited in the Bible, where in Genesis 3:7, Adam and Eve cover their nakedness with fig leaves. The fig fruit is also included in the list of food found in the Promised Land, according to the Torah (Deut. 8). Jesus cursed a fig tree for bearing no fruit (Mark 11:12–14). The fig tree was sacred in ancient Cyprus where it was a symbol of fertility.
Fig fruit and reproduction system
Many fig species are grown for their fruits, though only Ficus carica is cultivated to any extent for this purpose. The fig fruits, important as both food and traditional medicine, contain laxative substances, flavonoids, sugars, vitamins A and C, acids and enzymes. However, figs are skin allergens, and the latex is a serious eye irritant. The fig is a false fruit or multiple fruit, in which the flowers and seeds grow together to form a single mass. The genus Dorstenia, also in the figs family (Moraceae), exhibits similar tiny flowers arranged on a receptacle but in this case the receptacle is a more or less flat, open surface. Propagating figs can be done by seeds, cuttings, air-layering or grafting. However, as with any plant, figs grown from seed are not necessarily genetically identical to the parent and are only propagated this way for breeding purposes.
Depending on the species, each fruit can contain up to several hundred to several thousand seeds.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||310 kJ (74 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||3 g|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,041 kJ (249 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||10 g|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
A fig "fruit" is derived from a specially adapted type of inflorescence (an arrangement of multiple flowers). In this case, it is an involuted, nearly closed receptacle with many small flowers arranged on the inner surface. Thus the actual flowers of the fig are unseen unless the fig is cut open. In Chinese the fig is called wú huā guǒ (simplified Chinese: 无花果; traditional Chinese: 無花果), "fruit without flower". In Bengali, where the Common Fig is called dumur, it is referenced in a proverb: tumi jeno dumurer phool hoe gele ("You have become [invisible like] the dumur flower").
The syconium often has a bulbous shape with a small opening (the ostiole) at the outward end that allows access to pollinators. The flowers are pollinated by very small wasps that crawl through the opening in search of a suitable place to lay eggs. Without this pollinator service fig trees could not reproduce by seed. In turn, the flowers provide a safe haven and nourishment for the next generation of wasps. This accounts for the frequent presence of wasp larvae in the fruit, and has led to a coevolutionary relationship. Technically, a fig fruit proper would be only one of the many tiny matured, seed-bearing gynoecia found inside one fig – if you cut open a fresh fig, individual fruit will appear as fleshy "threads", each bearing a single seed inside.
Fig plants can be monoecious (hermaphrodite) or gynodioecious (hermaphrodite and female). Nearly half of fig species are gynodioecious, and therefore have some plants with inflorescences (syconium) with long styled pistillate flowers, and other plants with staminate flowers mixed with short styled pistillate flowers. The long flowers styles tend to prevent wasps from laying their eggs within the ovules, while the short styled flowers are accessible for egg laying.
All the native fig trees of the American continent are hermaphrodites, as well as species like Indian Banyan (F. benghalensis), Weeping Fig (F. benjamina), Indian Rubber Plant (F. elastica), Fiddle-leaved Fig (F. lyrata), Moreton Bay Fig (F. macrophylla), Chinese Banyan (F. microcarpa), Sacred Fig (F. religiosa) and Sycamore Fig (F. sycomorus).
On the other hand the Common Fig (Ficus carica) is a gynodioecious plant, as well as Lofty fig or Clown fig (F. aspera), Roxburgh Fig (F. auriculata), Mistletoe Fig (F. deltoidea), F. pseudopalma, Creeping Fig (F. pumila) and related species.
The hermaphrodite Common Figs are called "inedible figs" or caprifigs; in traditional culture in the Mediterranean region they were considered food for goats (Capra aegagrus). In the female fig trees, the male flower parts fail to develop; they produce the "edible figs". Fig wasps grow in Common Fig caprifigs but not in the female syconiums because the female flower is too long for the wasp to successfully lay her eggs in them. Nonetheless, the wasp pollinates the flower with pollen from the caprifig it grew up in. When the wasp dies, it is broken down by enzymes (Ficain) inside the fig. Fig wasps are not known to transmit any diseases harmful to humans.
When a caprifig ripens, another caprifig must be ready to be pollinated. In temperate climes, wasps hibernate in figs, and there are distinct crops. Common Fig[verification needed] caprifigs have three crops per year; edible figs have two. The first (breva) produces small fruits called olynth. Some parthenocarpic cultivars of Common Figs do not require pollination at all, and will produce a crop of figs (albeit sterile) in the absence of caprifigs or fig wasps.
Mutualism with the pollinating fig wasps
There is typically only one species of wasp capable of fertilizing the flowers of each species of fig, and therefore plantings of fig species outside of their native range results in effectively sterile individuals. For example, in Hawaii, some 60 species of figs have been introduced, but only four of the wasps that fertilize them have been introduced, so only four species of figs produce viable seeds there and can become invasive species. This is an example of mutualism, in which each organism (fig plant and fig wasp) benefit each other, in this case reproductively.
The intimate association between fig species and their wasp pollinators, along with the high incidence of a one-to-one plant-pollinator ratio have long led scientists to believe that figs and wasps are a clear example of coevolution. Morphological and reproductive behavior evidence, such as the correspondence between fig and wasp larvae maturation rates, have been cited as support for this hypothesis for many years. Additionally, recent genetic and molecular dating analyses have shown a very close correspondence in the character evolution and speciation phylogenies of these two clades.
Recently, molecular techniques including the combined use of microsatellite markers in combination with mitochondrial sequence analyses have suggested that the one-to-one relationships between figs and their pollinators may not be as strict as once believed The discovery of multiple genetically distinct, cryptic wasp species paired with individual fig species supports this concern, particularly considering that not all cryptic species are sister taxa and thus must have experienced a host shift at some point. These cryptic species lacked evidence of genetic introgression or backcrosses indicating limited fitness for hybrids and effective reproductive isolation and speciation.
The existence of cryptic species suggests that neither the number of symbionts nor their evolutionary relationships are necessarily fixed ecologically. Fifty percent of fig species host multiple wasp pollinators thus are not tied inextricably to any single symbiont. On the other hand, species of wasps have been shown to pollinate multiple host fig species While the morphological characteristics that facilitate the fig-wasp mutualisms are likely to be shared more fully in closer relatives, the absence of unique pairings would make it impossible to do a one-to-one tree comparison and difficult to determine cospeciation.
With 800 species, Ficus is by far the largest genus in the Moraceae, and is one of the largest genera of flowering plants currently described. The species currently classified within Ficus were originally split into several genera in the mid-1800s, providing the basis for a subgeneric classification when reunited into one genus in 1867. This classification put functionally dioecious species into four subgenera based on floral characters. In 1965, E. J. H. Corner reorganized the genus on the basis of breeding system, uniting these four dioecious subgenera into a single dioecious subgenus Ficus. Monoecious figs were classified within the subgenera Urostigma, Pharmacosycea and Sycomorus.
This traditional classification been called into question by recent phylogenetic studies employing genetic methods to investigate the relationships between representative members of the various sections of each subgenus. Of Corner's original subgeneric divisions of the genus, only Sycomorus is supported as monophyletic in the majority of phylogenetic studies. Notably, there is no clear split between dioecious and monoecious lineages. One of the two sections of Pharmacosycea, a monoecious group, form a monophyletic clade basal to the rest of the genus, which includes the other section of Pharmacosycea, the rest of the monoecious species, and all of the dioecious species. These remaining species are divided into two main monophyletic lineages (though the statistical support for these lineages isn't as strong as for the monophyly of the more derived clades within them). One consists of all sections of Urostigma except for section Urostigma s. s.. The other includes section Urostigma s. s., subgenus Sycomorus, and the species of subgenus Ficus, though the relationships of the sections of these groups to one another are not well resolved.
- Subgenus Ficus
- Ficus carica L. – common fig
- Ficus daimingshanensis Chang
- Ficus deltoidea Jack – mistletoe fig
- Ficus erecta Thunb. – Japanese fig
- Ficus grossularioides Burman f. - white-leaved fig
- Ficus hirta Vahl
- Ficus neriifolia Sm.
- Ficus palmata Forssk.
- Ficus pandurata Hance
- Ficus ischnopoda Miq.
- Ficus vaccinioides King
- Ficus variolosa Lindl. ex Benth.
- Subgenus Pharmacosycea
- Ficus adhatodifolia Schott
- Ficus apollinaris Dugand
- Ficus carchiana Berg
- Ficus crassiuscula Standl.
- Ficus ecuadorensis Berg
- Ficus dicranostyla Mildbr.
- Ficus gigantosyce Dugand
- Ficus guajavoides Lundell
- Ficus illiberalis Corner
- Ficus insipida Willd.
- Ficus lacunata Kvitvik
- Ficus macbridei Standl.
- Ficus maxima Mill.
- Ficus mutabilis Bureau
- Ficus mutisii Dugand
- Ficus nervosa Heyne ex Roth
- Ficus obtusiuscula Miq.
- Ficus piresiana Vázquez Avila & Berg
- Ficus pulchella Schott
- Ficus rieberiana Berg
- Ficus tonduzii Standl.
- Ficus yoponensis Desv.
- Subgenus Sycidium
- Ficus andamanica Corner
- Ficus aspera G.Forst.
- Ficus bojeri Baker
- Ficus capreifolia Delile
- Ficus coronata Spin - creek sandpaper fig
- Ficus fraseri Miq. - shiny sandpaper fig
- Ficus fulvopilosa Summerh.
- Ficus godeffroyi Warb. - mati (samoan)
- Ficus greenwoodii Summerh.
- Ficus heterophylla Miq.
- Ficus lateriflora Vahl
- Ficus masonii Baker
- Ficus montana Burm.f. – oakleaf fig
- Ficus opposita Miq. – sweet sandpaper fig
- Ficus scabra G.Forst.
- Ficus tinctoria G.Forst. – dye fig
- Ficus ulmifolia Lam.
- Ficus virgata Blume
- Ficus wassa Roxb.
- Subgenus Sycomorus
- Ficus auriculata Lour. – Roxburgh fig
- Ficus benguetensis Merr.
- Ficus congesta Roxb.
- Ficus dammaropsis Diels – highland breadfruit, kapiak
- Ficus fistulosa Blume
- Ficus hispida L.
- Ficus mauritiana Lam.
- Ficus minahassae Teijsmann & de Vriese
- Ficus mollior Bentham
- Ficus nana Corner
- Ficus nota Merr. – tibig
- Ficus pseudopalma Blanco
- Ficus racemosa L. – cluster fig
- Ficus septica Burm.f. – hauli tree
- Ficus sycomorus L. – sycamore fig
- Ficus variegata Blume
- Subgenus Synoecia
- Ficus barbata Blume = Ficus villosa
- Ficus hederacea Roxb.
- Ficus laevis Blume
- Ficus pantoniana King – climbing fig
- Ficus pumila L. – creeping fig
- Ficus sarmentosa Sm.
- Subgenus Urostigma
- Ficus abutilifolia Miq.
- Ficus albert-smithii Standl.
- Ficus altissima Blume
- Ficus amazonica Miq.
- Ficus americana Aubl.
- Ficus aripuanensis Berg & Kooy
- Ficus aurea Nutt. - Florida strangler fig
- Ficus beddomei King – thavital
- Ficus benghalensis L. – Indian banyan
- Ficus benjamina L. – weeping fig
- Ficus binnendijkii Miq.
- Ficus bizanae Hutch. & Burtt-Davy
- Ficus blepharophylla Vázquez Avila
- Ficus broadwayi Urb.
- Ficus bubu Warb.
- Ficus burtt-davyi Hutch.
- Ficus calyptroceras Miq.
- Ficus castellviana Dugand
- Ficus catappifolia Kunth & Bouché
- Ficus caulocarpa Miq.
- Ficus citrifolia Mill. – short-leaved fig
- Ficus cordata Thunb.
- Ficus costaricana Miq.
- Ficus cotinifolia Kunth
- Ficus crassipes F.M.Bailey – round-leaved banana fig
- Ficus craterostoma Mildbr. & Burret
- Ficus dendrocida Kunth
- Ficus destruens F.White
- Ficus drupacea Thunb.
- Ficus elastica Hornem. - Indian rubber plant
- Ficus elasticoides De Wild.
- Ficus enormis Miq.
- Ficus faulkneriana Berg
- Ficus fischeri Mildbr. & Burret
- Ficus glaberrima Blume
- Ficus glumosa Delile
- Ficus gomelleira Kunth & Bouché
- Ficus greiffiana Dugand
- Ficus guianensis Desv.
- Ficus hirsuta Schott
- Ficus ilicina Miq.
- Ficus kerkhovenii Valeton – Johore fig
- Ficus luschnathiana Miq.
- Ficus ingens Miq.
- Ficus krukovii Standl.
- Ficus lacor Buch.-Ham.
- Ficus lapathifolia Miq.
- Ficus lauretana Vázquez Avila
- Ficus lutea Vahl
- Ficus lyrata Warb. – fiddle-leaved fig
- Ficus maclellandii King – Alii fig
- Ficus macrophylla Desf. ex Pers. – Moreton Bay fig
- Ficus mariae Berg, Emygdio & Carauta
- Ficus mathewsii Miq.
- Ficus matiziana Dugand
- Ficus microcarpa L. – Chinese banyan
- Ficus muelleriana Berg
- Ficus natalensis Hochst. – mutuba (Ganda)
- Ficus obliqua G.Forst. – small-leaved fig
- Ficus obtusifolia Kunth
- Ficus pakkensis Standl.
- Ficus pallida Vahl
- Ficus panurensis Standl.
- Ficus pertusa L.f.
- Ficus petiolaris Kunth
- Ficus platypoda Cunn. – desert fig
- Ficus pleurocarpa DC. – banana fig
- Ficus polita Vahl
- Ficus prolixa G.Forst.
- Ficus religiosa L. – sacred fig
- Ficus roraimensis Berg
- Ficus rubiginosa Desf. – Port Jackson fig
- Ficus rumphii Blume
- Ficus salicifolia Vahl – willow-leaved fig
- Ficus sansibarica Warb.
- Ficus saussureana DC.
- Ficus schippii Standl.
- Ficus schultesii Dugand
- Ficus schumacheri Griseb.
- Ficus sphenophylla Standl.
- Ficus stuhlmannii Warb.
- Ficus subpisocarpa Gagnep.
- Ficus subpuberula Corner
- Ficus superba Miq.
- Ficus tettensis Hutch.
- Ficus thonningii Blume
- Ficus tremula Warb.
- Ficus trichopoda Baker
- Ficus trigona L.f.
- Ficus trigonata L.
- Ficus triradiata Corner – red-stipule fig
- Ficus umbellata Vahl
- Ficus ursina Standl.
- Ficus velutina Willd.
- Ficus verruculosa Warb.
- Ficus virens Aiton – white fig
- Ficus watkinsiana F.M.Bailey – Watkins's fig
- Unknown subgenus
- Ficus arpazusa Carauta and Diaz
- Ficus bibracteata
- Ficus cristobalensis
- Ficus cyclophylla
- Ficus guaranitica
- Ficus mexiae Standl.
List of famous fig trees
- Ashvattha – the world tree of Hinduism, held to be a supernatural F. religiosa
- Bodhi tree – a F. religiosa
- Charybdis Fig Tree of the Odyssey, presumably a F. carica
- Curtain Fig Tree – a F. virens
- Ficus Ruminalis – a F. carica
- Plaksa – another supernatural fig in Hinduism; usually identified as F. religiosa but probably F. infectoria
- Santa Barbara's Moreton Bay Fig Tree – a F. macrophylla
- Sri Maha Bodhi – another F. religiosa, planted in 288 BCE, the oldest human-planted tree on record
- The Great Banyan – a F. benghalensis, a clonal colony and once the largest organism known
- Vidurashwatha – "Vidura's Sacred Fig tree", a village in India named after a famous F. religiosa that until recently stood there
- Wonderboom - the largest fig tree, in Pretoria, South Africa
- Abraham Mauricio Salazar, famous papel amate artist
- Amphoe Pho Sai and Amphoe Suan Phueng, districts in Thailand named after Ficus species
- Edred John Henry Corner
- Fig Newton (Fig Roll)
- Figs in the Bible
- Figtree, California
- Figtree, New South Wales
- Figtree, Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Figtree, Zimbabwe
- God hates figs
- Jesus cursing the fig tree
- List of fruits
- Mission fig
- Naturopathic medicine
- Pharmacosycea, a Ficus subgenus
- Pippalada – Atharva-Veda scholar whose name means "Sacred Fig eater"
- Strangler fig
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Balete tree (also known as Balite or Baliti) are several species of the trees in the Philippines from the genus Ficus that are broadly referred to as balete in the local language. A number of these are known as strangler figs wherein they start upon other trees, later entrapping them entirely and finally killing the host tree. Also called hemiepiphytes, initially, they start as epiphytes or air plants and grow several hanging roots that eventually touch the ground and from then on, encircling and suffocating the host tree. Some of the baletes produce an inferior quality of rubber. The India rubber plant, F. elastica were earlier cultivated to some extent for rubber. Some of the species like tangisang-bayawak or Ficus variegata are large and could probably be utilized for match woods. The woods of species of Ficus are soft, light, and of inferior quality, and the trees usually have ill-formed, short boles.
- F. arayatensis Warb.
- F. balete Merr.
- F. benjamina Linn.
- F. benjamina Linn. var. nuda Miq.
- F. clusioides Miq.
- F. concinna Miq.
- F. elastica Roxb.
- F. forstenii Miq.
- F. indica Linn.
- F. parvifolia Miq.
- F. payapa Blanco
- F. philipinenses Miq.
- F. retusa Linn.
- F. stipulosa Miq. Linn.
- F. variegata Blume
In folkloric medicine, the bark of some of the species like F. benjamina, its roots, and leaves boiled in oil can be applied on wounds and bruises. The juice of the bark has a reputation for curing liver diseases. In rheumatic headache the pounded leaves and bark are applied as a poultice.
Baletes are planted as graceful trees along avenues in Manila and other large cities in the Philippines, and they are also excellent as shade trees. Several species of the tree are also use for bonsai making in the country.
In some areas of the country, some people believe that balete trees are dwelling places for supernatural beings like kapre or tikbalang. In some places, sorcery rituals are known performed inside the chambers formed by the tree. Also among others, some superstitious folks suggest not bringing in balete as decorative plants inside a house as they allegedly invite ghosts.
Balete Drive in New Manila, Quezon City, named after a gargantuan balete tree that used to stand in the middle of the street, is allegedly one of the most haunted places in the city. The tale of a white lady appears at night hailing cars that drive by have been circulated since the 1950s.
- The balete tree inside the OISCA Farm in Lumapao, Canlaon City, Negros Oriental, Philippines is estimated by botanists from Silliman University to be around 1,328 years old. It would take at least 42 men to encircle its trunk. At the heart of this wide tree trunk is a cavity where lizards, bats and many insects have made it their home. With fireflies lighting it at night like a year-round Christmas tree, it is one of the city's main tourist attraction.
- A balete tree locally called "Millenium Tree" in Barangay Quirino, Maria Aurora, Aurora province in the Philippines is claimed to be the largest of its kind in Asia. It is estimated to be about 600+ years old and 60 metres (200 ft) tall with its roots about 10 metres (33 ft) to 15 metres (49 ft) in diameter. It is possible for adult people to squeeze into the center of its root network.
- A 400-year old balete tree in Barangay Campalanas in the town of Lazi, in Siquijor province is believed to be the oldest and the biggest in the province. What is also unusual about this tree is the spring that emanates from the base of the tree and flows straight into a man-made pool.
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