ABOVE: Fruiting Ficus subcordata at Tawau Hills Park in Sabah. The large ripe figs are extremely popular with several species of hornbills.
Photo by Shavez Cheema and Chun Xing Wong.
WUNUT Ficus subcordata Blume (1825) SECTION: CONOSYCEAE
Latin: Similar to Ficus cordata a synonym for Ficus elastica from the similarity of the leaves. In the USA known as Fairchild’s Fig.
Habit: One of the most common large figs in the more seasonal areas of SE Asia and the Pacific Islands east to the Solomon Islands. In the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia frequently grown as fence posts, with the leaves regularly pruned for cattle fodder.
In the wet forests of Borneo an uncommon hemi-epiphyte. At Lambir Hills, Harrison et al (2003) described the characteristic growth habits of 9 individuals as being very large hemi-epiphytes in the crown of 30 m + tall emergent trees. i.e. not stranglers with multiple roots enclosing the trunk of the host tree but canopy epiphytes with normally one of two aerial roots reaching the ground.
Leaves: Medium size thick oblong leaves 9-20 cm long by 4-10 cm wide with a light green petiole (leaf stalk) up to 5 cm long. The leaves resemble small Ficus elastica leaves, or large Ficus benjamina leaves with multiple rows of indistinct parallel veins.
Fig: The large oblong figs to 3.5 cm ripen green to yellow to orange and black.
Similar species: Ficus benjamina and Ficus stricta which form a species group with F. subcordata. The differences are related to size. Ficus benjamina has the smallest leaves and figs whilst F. subcordata has the largest figs and leaves. Ficus stricta leaves and figs are intermediate in size.
Distinguish: By the shape and size of the leaf without any well defined side veins, combined with the very large figs.
Distribution: Widespread but scarce in lowland forests throughout Borneo. Locally common at Tawau Hills Park.
Sabah: At least two individuals in the forest near Tawau Hills Park HQ fruit regularly attracting Binturongs, Red Langurs, Gibbons and Helmeted, Rhinoceros, Wreathed, Bushy-crested and Black Hornbills.
Brunei: An individual fruits regularly next to the Belalong Canopy Walkway in Temburong attracting Bushy-crested, Rhinoceros and Helmeted Hornbills to feed as well as the local gibbon family.
Sarawak: At Lambir the 7th most common hemi-epiphytic fig in the 2 Smithsonian plots (60 ha) with 5 individuals present in 1998 and 4 individuals present in 2005. The missing individual was lost in a tree fall. Harrison (2006).
Kalimantan: Locally common in South and East Kalimantan.
Range: Vietnam south to Sumatra and east to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands where Ficus subcordata is both the most common and the largest strangling fig in the island forests.