CAVE FIG Ficus cavernicola Berg (2003)) SECTION KISSOSYCEA
Latin: Cave fig – Named after the Mesilau Cave, located at 1,800m on Kinabalu. Used by many early botanists as a staging post on their botanical explorations, the Mesilau Cave is the type location for many of Kinabalu’s endemic plants possibly due to the ultramafic soils in the vicinity.
Plant: A rare root climber which has only been collected once near the Mesilau cave on Kinabalu.
Leaf: Small leaves 5-6 cm long x 3-3.5 cm wide. The lateral veins are impressed (sunken) above giving the upper surface of the leaf a corrugated appearance.
Fig: The medium size figs (2-2.5cm) have a very short peduncle (stalk) up to 0.3cm long.
Similar species: F.disticha.
Distinguish: From F. disticha by the corrugated upper leaf surface.
Distribution: Only one herbarium record from the Mesilau Cave a 15 minute walk from the Mesilau Station of Kinabalu Park. Recent observations indicate that this root climbing fig is relatively common on the trees surrounding the buildings at Mesilau.
Taxonomic Note added 01 January 2023. It is likely that Berg (2003) was in error when he named Ficus cavernicola in 2003 as it appears that Ficus tulipifera originally collected by Carr at the Tenopok pass in 1939 has name priority for this species. Further confusion arose when a new species of Kalimantan root climber was wrongly named Ficus tulipifera.
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Ficus cavernicola TYPE held at the Leiden Herbarium.