FICUS XYLOPHYLLA Wall. ex Miq (1867) SECTION:CONOSYCEAE
Greek: Refers to the thick “woody leaves”.
Habits: Large strangler to 30m locally common in areas of poor soils and peat swamp forest. Closely related to F. crassiramea and F. stupenda Berg (2005).
Large leaf averaging 13-25 cm (but up to 50 cm long by 6-13 cm wide with 6-8 pairs of side veins. The apex of the leaf is rounded with no or a small drip tip.
Large oblong figs: 3-4 cm in diameter and up to 5 cm long grow in pairs in the leaf axils at the ends of the branches. Figs ripen green to orange to bright red. The basal bracts are cauducuous and fall early from the fig.
Similar species: Berg (2005) notes that F. xylophylla is very close to F. crassiramea/ F. stupenda and it is obvious that all three figs are part of a very variable species complex with a differing morphology that seem to be specialized for different habitats. Whether they are actually different species can only be determined by DNA.
Distinguish: From F. crassiramea/ F. stupenda by the more rounded leaf with small or no drip tip and the oblong figs without basal bracts. The leaf is significantly larger thicker and more solid than most other Bornean figs, apart from Ficus stupenda.
Distribution: Locally common in lowland forests with areas of peat swamp and poor sandy kerangas soils. A common fig of the peat-swamp forests of Brunei and Sarawak.
Sabah: Uncommon. Tanjong FR (Tawau), Lungmanis (Sandakan), Nabawan kerangas forest. According to Kitayama (1987) Vegetation of Pulau Tiga an island on the west coast of Sabah, Ficus xylophylla was the most common fig on the island. However a recent January 2020 survey by Shavez Cheema and Chun Xing Wong 1Stop Borneo Wildlife found no F. xylophylla but numerous F. drupacea. Kitayama’s report was obviously in error on this matter.
Brunei: Berakas FR, Sg Liang Arboretum. Ulu Belalong.
Sarawak: At Lambir the third most common strangler in the 52 ha plot with 19 individuals (Harrison 2005). Common around Kuching especially coastal forest including Bako, Sematan and Tg Datu. In his 1963 article on the flora of Sarawak’s peat swamp forest Anderson described F. xylophylla as abundant on Pulau Bruit but rare elsewhere.
Kalimantan: At Gunung Palung ranges from peat swamp through all habitats to montane forest; most abundant in peat swamp and submontane forest (Laman & Weiblen 1998).
Range: S. Thailand south to the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo.