Ficus vasculosa.  Isotype from Penang, Malaya in the Herbarium of the RBG Edinburgh. The isotype is a duplicate of the holotype i.e. the original herbarium collection after which the plant is named.

VASE FIG Ficus vasculosa  Wall ex Miq. (1848)                           SECTION: OREOSYCEA

Latin: Vase shaped, referring to the figs.

Plant: A striking tall tree (to 45m) with relatively small leaves, prominent smooth white trunk and prominent buttresses. The young leaves may be lobed like those of F. callosa.

Leaves: The leaves are small and plain without white veins unlike  other Oreosycea figs. such as Ficus callosa and Ficus nervosa. However the herbarium dried leaves do have a waxy sheen  (as seen above) similar to the leaves of other  Oreosyceae figs.

Fig: The figs have short peduncles (stalks) up to 1cm with small bracts on the stalk and hang from the ends of the branches. Figs ripen yellow to bright red. This fig may fruit as a shrub or small tree.

Sex: Monoecious (Both sexes combined in one plant)

Distinguish: Only 5 species of Oreosycea figs occur in Borneo. All have very tall straight white trunks with prominent buttresses at the base and no strangling or hanging roots. Apart from F albipila which is very rare only two Bornean Oreosycea have figs which ripen red, F. vasculosa and F. nervosa. The leaves of the two are very different. With F. vasculosa the veins are the same colour as the leaf whilst with F. nervosa the white veins are very prominent.

Similar species: The tall straight white trunk can be mistaken for Ficus variegata but the small glossy green leaves with faint veins are very different. Ficus variegata usually has cauliferous figs growing from the trunk whilst  F.vasculosa never has cauliferous figs.

Distribution: Found throughout the lowland forests of Borneo but generally very scarce. Beaman 2004 has only two records for Kinabalu at 1,100-1,200m. Has been found at mile 38.5 on the Tamparuli-Ranau Road. No records from Brunei where it is obviously under recorded because it is the 20/52 most common fig in the 56 ha plot at Lambir  (N. Sarawak) where 13 individuals were found. Vasculosa is the only Oreosycea fig found at Lambir. Present both in East and West Kalimantan (Ferry Slik).

Range: A patchy distribution from S. China south to the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Java east to Timor. In Singapore an uncommon but widespread tree of secondary forest, and the forest edge .In Hong Kong a widespread forest tree.

Ficus vasculosa King (1887) ENHANCED.jpg
This is effectively the TYPE illustration of Ficus vasculosa taken from George King’s magnificent book  The Species of Ficus of the Indo-Malayan and Chinese Countries published by the Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta in 1887.