Ficus albipila growing next to The Studio, Danau Girang Field Centre, Kinabatangan, Sabah. F. albipila is one of the rarest figs in Borneo. Previous records include Bandjarmasin  and Kutai in Kalimantan and Sungai Resang (Kinabatangan) in Sabah.  In the past F. albipila  has been frequently confused with tall Koompasia (Mengaris trees) because it is one of the tallest trees in the forest and is frequently used by giant honey bees (Apis dorsata) for hanging their enormous honey combs.
The size of this Ficus albipila at the Danau Girang Field Centre indicates that it is very  old with a long history. I suspect the the pockmarks on the trunk are healed wounds from bamboo climbing pegs hammered into the trunk to make a  rough ladder for human honey collectors. The many  marks indicate that this tree has been climbed multiple times. Apis dorsata bees are nomadic following flowering patches of forest from area to area. They rarely stay more than  three or four months in the same locality and often return to the same tree every year.
Botanists need  leaves to be able to make plant identification. The skilled field assistants at Danau Girang used a giant catapult   with a soft ball attached to a rope to bring down fresh leaves for us to identify.

leaves-3p7a9431These are some of the fresh leaves collected by catapult  which enabled us to identify this amazing tree as the rare Ficus albipila.   

Kinabatangan enhanced.jpg