LAWES’ FIG Ficus lawesii King. (1887) SECTION CONOSYCEAE
Latin: Named for an English missionary William George Lawes (1839-1907) who collected plants in New Guinea and was the first European resident of Port Moresby.
Plant: Climber or strangler at canopy level in primary forest.
Leaf: Spirally arranged. Large oval leaf, 6-18cm long x 2.5-7.5cm wide with a petiole (leaf stalk) up to 5cm long.
Fig: Small fig 0.8-1.4 cm,) in pairs (or fours) in the leaf axils. The distinctive fig stalk (peduncle) is up to 1.2cm long. The figs ripen green to orange green.
Similar species: Only five Conosycea stranglers species produce figs with peduncles (stalks). Three of these are bat figs which produce large figs which ripen green. (1) F. annulata (2) F.depressa and (3) F. globosa. The (4th) F. dubia is a large fig which ripens bright red. None resemble F. lawesii.
Distinguish: The only Conosycea strangler with tiny stalked figs that ripen greenish yellow.
Distribution: A mystery fig with a relict distribution. Widely scattered throughout the forests of Borneo up to 1,000m in the hills but generally very scarce.
Sabah: Palum Tambun river near the Danum Valley Field Centre, Sipitang. Brunei: No records. Sarawak: Sungai Mayeng, Tau Range, 3rd Division. Kalimantan: Sangkulirang island-presumably one of the many small islands off the coast of the Sangkulirang Peninsula in East Kalimantan.
Range: A rare fig in Borneo and the Philippines. Absent from Sulawesi and the Moluccas but common in New Guinea. Closely related to F. glaberrima which also has a relict allopatric distribution in Sumatra and Java but is curiously absent from the Malay Peninsula and Borneo. See map below from Berg (2005) Pg. 655.