IUCN threat status:

Vulnerable (VU)

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While little information is available regarding the biology of Ficus bojeri, it is likely to be similar to that of other fig species. Fig trees are pollinated solely by fig wasps, tiny insects just a couple of millimetres long. In turn, fig wasps are only able to breed inside figs; a remarkable example of a mutualistic relationship in which one cannot survive without the other (5). A female fig wasp, flying around in search of a fig tree, is attracted to specific chemicals given off by the fig when it is ready for pollination. Once located, the female fig wasp squeezes her way into the fig through a tiny opening at the top; a task that is so challenging that her wings and antennae usually break off in the process. She pollinates the stigmas, with pollen carried from the fig she developed in, and then lays her eggs into the ovary of one of the tiny flowers. Here the larvae develop, as does the fig, for a period of three to twenty weeks. Once the fig wasps have reached maturity, they chew their way out into the fig cavity. The males are wingless, and after mating with the females, they chew a hole through the fig wall to allow the females to escape and then die. The females, covered with pollen from the fig from which they emerged, then begin the search for a receptive young fig, in which they will start the cycle over again (5). It is only after the female fig wasps have left the fig that it ripens, adopting a colour and scent that makes it attractive to fruit-eating animals such as monkeys, birds and bats. These animals, after ingesting the fruit, excrete the seeds at a new location, where a new fig tree will hopefully grow (5).


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© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

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