PAPER-LEAF FIG Ficus chartacea  Wall ex. King. (1888)  SECTION:ERIOSYCEAE

Latin: Paper fig referring to the papery feel of the dried leaves.

Plant: Small tree to 12m common along the edge of primary forest. The leaves grow in spirals not distichously.

Leaf: The long elliptic leaf 7.5-15 cm long x 2.5-6 cm wide is very variable in shape. The leaf is often covered in white dots-hence an alternative common name of Speckle-leaf Fig. Hydathodes: These white dots known as hydathodes are obvious on the upper surface of many fig leaves eg F.septica but are probably most obvious on F.chartacea. Hydathodes are used for guttation- the expulsion of  excess water and mineral salts. See article on this subject under Ficus septica.

Petiole (leaf stalk) may be almost absent or up to 6 cm long and is articulate (swollen) like an elbow at both ends to allow the leaf to flex in passing breezes.

Fig: A small fig (0.6-0.8 cm) which ripens, green to yellow to orange to red. There is a short stalk and a prominent ostiole. The figs ripen from green spotted white to orange to red.

Sex: Dioecious

Similar Species: May be confused with large leafed Sycidiums such as F.midotis.

Distinguish: (1) Large leaf Sycidium leaves are normally distichous – in two rows opposite each other, whilst F. chartacea leaves grow in spirals or whorls. (2) F. chartacea has distinctive young floppy leaves (usually single at the terminal end of a branch) which are pale, cream or pink before turning green- never seen on Sycidiums.

Distribution: Common along the edge of primary forest in the lowlands throughout Borneo up to 1,750. Sabah: Sandakan, Kinabatangan,Crocker Range, Brunei: Bukit Teraja. Sarawak: Lambir, Mulu (often at cave entrances), Gng Santubong. Kalimantan:Long Bangun in Kaltim and Serawai in Kalbar.

Range: Myanmar east to Vietnam and Thailand and south to the Malay Peninsula. Rare in Sumatra, absent from Java. A rare forest fig in Singapore but can be seen growing along the edge of the rainforest next to the path at the top of Palm Valley.