HORNED FIG Ficus cereicarpa Corner (1960) SECTION: SYCOCARPUS
Greek: Homed fruit referring to the bracts on the fig.
Habit: Large shrub or small tree to 9m in damp forests by streams and on damp slopes and rocky ravines.
Leaf: One of the most varied leaves in shape and size in SECTION Sycocarpus. The largest leaves including the petiole (leaf stalk) can exceed one meter in length and are probably the largest leaves of any Bornean fig. Young leaves are covered in dense silky hairs
Fig: The large figs 4-8 cm vary in shape and size, are covered in sturdy bracts and grow on short thick stolons at the base of the trunk. The fig is normally very dark brown but according to Berg (2005) it ripens orange. It is also said to be edible. At Lambir the figs were eaten by large rats (Harrison 2000).
Distinguish: Similar to Ficus francisci but larger in all parts. Distinguished by the figs which are have large bracts on the surface of the fig fruit. Ficus francisci figs never have bracts on the fig fruit. Ficus cereicarpa & Ficus francisci compared
Distribution: The TYPE is from Belalong (Brunei) and this fig is also found in Lambir south to Kapit in central Sarawak but is most common in the hills of the Crocker Range and on Kinabalu where it occurs up to 1,600m. Along the KK-Tambunan Road it is common above 1,000m, the branches overhanging the busy road. Also recorded from Tabin where according to Dr Zainal of BORA at Tabin the leaves are a popular food of Sumatran Rhinoceros.
Range: Endemic to Borneo.
Ecology: Ficus cereicarpa on Kinabalu “The most interesting places to explore for figs are the streams in deep gullies at 900-1,000m. Here one meets the coarse sapling like F. cereicarpa with large leaves up to 55 x 15 cm, and twice as big in its saplings, which always seems to be sterile until one looks at the base of the stem and discovers, partly hidden by fallen leaves a mound of scaly brown figs which reach 5-7.5cm wide. It thrives in steep gorges or chasms where it projects from ledges in the rock and extends horizontally until, with increasing weight, it hangs down and eventually falls off; the big leaves continually flutter in the breeze that blows along these clefts”. Prof. J.H. Corner (1978) in Kinabalu-Summit of Borneo recounting his experiences on the Royal Society Expediton to the east ridge of Kinabalu in 1960-61
Ecology: Ficus cereicarpa fruiting strategies: Steady State or Big Bang ? The majority of tall stranglers which reach canopy level, fruit erratically at long intervals in one “big bang” attracting nomadic flocks of pigeons, hornbills and fruit bats from afar.
In contrast many under storey and earth figs ripen fruit one by one, over a long period a “steady state” strategy to attract mammalian dispersers such as bats, civets and deer to visit the plant each night on what is known as a “traplining route” ensuring that each fig is dispersed as soon as it is ripe. At Lambir, Harrison (2000) found that” a large male individual of F. cereicarpa maintained continuous production of fig wasps over an 18 month period meaning that this one fig tree was producing figs continuously throughout the 18 month period one after another.