Ficus parietalis grown in a Belgian hothouse. From: l’Illustration horticole, journal spécial des serres et des jardins by Charles Lemaire (1858)
FICUS PARIETALIS Blume (1825) SECTION:SYCIDIUM
Latin: Borne on the inside of the ovary wall i.e. the fig flowers – a characteristic feature of all fig fruits.
Small tree or climber to 20m common throughout the lowlands of Borneo.
Large leaves 8-25cm (but up to 36cm) long by 4-12cm wide with a rough corrugated upper surface. The leaves are distichous with 3-6 (average 4.5) pairs of side veins with the very long and prominent distinctive basal veins reaching ½ to ¾ the length of the leaf.
The medium sized figs (1.5-2.5 cm) hang from hooked stipitate peduncles up to 2.5cm long. Female figs ripen bright orange/ red. Male figs ripen yellow with an open ostiole.
Habit: Corner (1975) notes that both F. parietalis and F. heteropleura have similar growth habits “with long stems that twine irregularly, looping and curling around neighbouring branches and around themselves. Thus they hold themselves up and are, uniquely in Ficus, coiling climbers”. At Gunug Palung, Laman and Weiblen describe F. parietalis as a lithopyhtic shrub scrambling over rocks as well as a climber. In the grounds of the Sepilok B & B near the RainforestDiscovery Centre, Sandakan there are several small independent trees which fruit several times a year attracting large numbers of Black and Pied Hornbills, green pigeons and bulbuls as well as squirrels.
Similar species: F. unigladulosa is the only Sycidium fig with an average of less than 5 pairs of side veins.
Distinguish: (1) In contrast to F. parietalis the basal veins of F. uniglandulosa are weak or indistinct, whereas F. parietalis has very long distinctive basal veins. (2) The small figs of F. unigladulosa are on average less than half the size of F. parietalis.
Distribution: One of the most common Section Sycidum figs along the edge of forest. Often found as an epiphyte on oil palms near to forest. Common in lowland primary forest throughout Borneo but uncommon in hill forest and not found in the mountains.
Beaman (2004) has only two records for Kinabalu, Hempuan Hill and Kaung both on the lower slopes but Berg (2005) records the occurrence as up to 2,000m.
Range: Vietnam south to Malaya, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Balabac (in between Sabah and Palawan) and Seram in the Moluccas. Corner (1975) notes a widespread but patchy distribution e.g. “No collections of F. parietalis have been made from west Johore, Singapore, or the Riouw Archipelago, or Bangka, but it is found in east Johore and west Borneo; hence it may narrowly define the Riau Pocket.