Sculptor Squirrel Glyphotes simus. This small rare squirrel endemic to hill forests in northern Borneo has been reported to feed on the latex obtained by scraping the underside central vein of Ficus stupenda leaves with their peculiar chisel like front teeth. This behaviour has now been reported from two sites in the Crocker Range and the Maliau Basin in Sabah. See Phillipps & Phillipps (2016) Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo and their Ecology.
FICUS STUPENDA Miq (1867) SECTION: CONOSYCEA
Latin: Refers to the stupendous (very large) fig.
Large strangler to 35m reported from lowland and hill forest throughout Borneo described by Berg (2005) as a subspecies of F. crassiramea but here listed as a separate species. See below.
Large leaf averaging 20-38cm long by 10-16cm wide with distinctive venation on the underside. There are usually 9-12 pairs of side veins with short straight distinct basal veins, similar to the leaf venation of F .crassiramea, but with extra side veins.
Large conical figs (3-5cm) grow in pairs in the leaf axils at the ends of the branches. Figs ripen greenish yellow to dull reddish and attract hornbills, langurs, and binturongs to feed. As with F. crassiramea the fig base is surrounded by prominent bracts.
Similar species: F. crassiramea and F. xylophylla.
From F. crassiramea by the larger more rounded leaf, less numerous side veins (6-8) and larger fig.
In comparison F. xylophylla has (1) Small or absent basal bracts on the fig (2) Thick waxy glossy leaf with no drip tip and (3) The paired basal veins are shaped like a ” V ” with F. xylophylla and like a “Y” with F. crassiramea and F. stupenda.
Distribution: Common in lowland forests inland throughout Borneo including Danum next to the canopy tower at DVFC. F. crassiramea is principally a fig of coastal and peat swamp forest and river banks whereas F. stupenda is most common in lowland dipterocarp forest. At Gng Palung one of the more common fig species with a density of approx. 20 adults/km2 (Laman 1995). At Lambir the 8th commonest strangler with 8 individuals in the 52 ha plot. Harrison (2005)
Range: Western Java and Borneo only.
FICUS STUPENDA & FICUS CRASSIRAMEA: Taxonomic confusion:
Ficus crassiramea and Ficus stupenda were originally described by the dutch botanist Miquel as separate species in 1867. Corner’s checklist of 1965 maintained this distinction. Botanists working in the field in Borneo including Laman and Weiblen (1998), Harrison (2005) at Lambir and Kochummen (2000) also accepted the distinction without quibble. However in Berg (2005), Ficus stupenda was treated as one of two sub-species of Ficus crassiramea –the other being Ficus crassiramea subsp crassiramea. Both sub-species occur together (sympatrically) in many areas of Borneo and appear very different in the field. However despite variations in leaf size and shape as described in this guide the leaf venation ( particularly the paired basal veins shaped like a “Y” ) shows that the two species are closely related. Note: Corner’s F. subtecta and Kochummen’s F. ashtonii were also sunk into F. crassiramea by Berg (2005).