RINGED FIG Ficus annulata Blume (1825) SECTION CONOSYCEAE
Latin: circular ring – believed to refer to the socket where the thick stalk (peduncle) slots into the top of the fig. Alternatively may refer to the conspicuously ringed stout twigs.
Plant: Large climber or tree reported from peat swamp, primary and secondary forest throughout Borneo.
Fig: The large egg shaped figs (3.0-4.0cm) grow in pairs in the leaf axils at the ends of the branches. Figs ripen green to greenish yellow with pale spots attracting fruit bats and civets at night. The peduncles of immature figs are surrounded by three large brown bracts which fall as the fig ripens.
Similar species: Frequently confused with F. depressa and F. globosa the only other large Section Conosycea lianas in which the figs ripen green /yellow and are dispersed by bats. These 3 species are obviously closely related and hybrids might occur
Variable Forms: In Borneo F. annulata often has persistent stipules surrounding sessile (without peduncles) fig fruits. The figs may be covered in sparse hairs especially on the bracts covering the ostiole and there may be thick hairs on the lateral veins on the underside of the leaves.
Distinguish: F. annulata fig fruits may have no peduncle (stalk) or a short thick peduncle and always 12 or more side veins on the leaf.
F. depressa figs always have a long thin peduncle and less than 12 side veins.
F. globosa figs have a short thin peduncle and the figs are round (globose) rather than egg shaped (ovoid) with a thin layer of tiny brown hairs or scurf covering the fig fruit. Normally 6-14 pairs of side veins.
Distribution: A common climber/strangler with a widespread distribution throughout Borneo. There are many records from areas with ultramafic soils eg Bukit Hampuan (Kinabalu) and Bukit Silam near Lahad Datu in E. Sabah.
Range: South China, south to Malaya, Sumatra, Borneo, Java and Sulawesi. In the Philippines only reported from Balabac Island, off the southern tip of Palawan.
Ecology: In West Malaysia at Krau, Hodgkison and Balding (2003) found that nomadic fruit bats Dyacopterus spadicus arrived in the area when Ficus annulata was fruiting and passed a significant number of viable seeds in their feces, whilst seeds damaged by wasps did not appear in their feces. Note: Fruit bats normally try to avoid swallowing fig seeds (because of the extra weight) and spit them in a fibre wad at their feeding perch However small slippery seeds would be difficult to separate out whilst chewing whilst damaged seeds would be easy to include in the spit wad.