LEPEROUS FIG Ficus lepicarpa Burm (1768) SECTION: SYCOCARPUS
Greek: Scaly fig, referring to the brown scurfy surface on many ripe figs.
Large shrub to small tree (12m) often along damp road sides and streams in forested areas.
Fig: The figs grow in the leaf axils towards the end of the branches and ripen green to yellow/green. Individual figs ripen sequentially as with Ficus septica and are dispersed by small fruit bats and palm civets.
Distinguish: The large dark green floppy leaves have pale veins on the upper surface which are usually sunken (impressed) giving the appearance that the leaf is corrugated. The twigs are hollow and the glands on the young leaves attract black ants. The easiest way to distinguish this plant from Ficus septica is the shape and appearance of the fig fruit-see below.
Similar species: Ficus lepicarpa and F. septica are often found together eg at Tabin in Sabah but lepicarpa prefers more shade and dampness. Lepicarpa figs ripen green like F. septica but often have a few scales on the side of the fig as well as a single ridge that circles the fig around the middle like an equator line (circumferential). Ficus lepicarpa fig fruits also ripen green but often develop a scurfy brown surface when mature.
Ecology: At Tabin both F. lepicarpa and F. septica are abundant and both species attract Common and Small-toothed Palm Civets.
Distribution: In Sabah less common than Ficus septica in open countryside but often more common along damp forest edges. Equally common on Kinabalu and the Crocker Range where both species range up to 1,500m. Common throughout Sarawak and Kalimantan. (Ficus septica is not found in Sarawak or West Kalimantan)
Range: Myanmar south to Malaya, Sumatra and Java. In the Philippines found on Palawan and Sulu Islands only. Also found on Sulawesi east to the Moluccas. Absent from Singapore.