The banks of the many streams that flow off Kinabalu are the best sites to find Kinabalu’s endemic figs including Ficus virescens, Ficus cereicarpa, Ficus malayana, and Ficus eumorpha. These pioneer figs also grow along mountain roadsides as well, such as with the fruiting Ficus eumorpha pictured below. All photos are of the same tree growing next to the Mesilau river taken from the river road bridge BEFORE it was destroyed by the earthquake of 5 June 2015. The slopes around Mesilau were particularly badly hit by multiple landslides.
Rather than a natural disaster this was a natural event which has taken place repeatedly on Kinabalu over the last few million years exposing bare earth where pioneer plant species such as Ficus eumorpha can flourish in full sunlight before tall forest can again become dominant. Repeated earthquakes and the consequent landslides are one of the reasons that Kinabalu has the highest diversity of plant life on Planet Earth.
This is a photo of the same Mesilau river valley pictured at the top of this article after the Kinabalu earthquake of 5 June 2015. The Ficus eumorpha tree pictured above was obviously destroyed by the landslide but the bare earth opened up by the landslide is prime habitat for pioneer vegetation such as Ficus eumorpha to re-establish. It is this constantly changing mosaic of habitats that makes Kinabalu so rich in rare endemic fig species. Photo by Anthea Phillipps.