TAWNY FIG Ficus subfulva  Corner (1960)    SECTION: ERIOSYCEA

Latin: Somewhat tawny i.e. golden brown referring to the hairs on the twigs, leaf stalks and the undersurface of the leaves

Habit: A generally scarce small tree to 20 m. Widespread in lowland and primary hill forest throughout Borneo. Scarce in Sabah but locally common in hill forest in Sarawak. Easily confused with Ficus fulva which is much more common throughout Borneo. In comparison with F. fulva the leaves, figs and twigs are usually about one half to 2/3 the size. The most important distinction is that F. subfulva has much more hairy twigs than F. fulva. The stipule of F. subfulva is brownish and slightly hairy whereas the stipule of F. fulva is greenish and less hairy.

Leaf: 10-25 cm long x 5-11.5 cm wide. Sex: Dioecious.

Fig: The small figs (0.1-1.2 cm) grow individually in the leaf axils on a peduncle (stalk) up to 1cm long. Figs ripen green to yellow to orange.

Similar species:

  • androchaete is a small tree with very similar leaves and figs but the basal lateral veins are unbranched and running parallel and close to the leaf margin in F.androchaete and usually faintly branched (almost) straight and not running parallel and close to the leaf margin in F. subfulva. Moreover the hairs of the stipules and brown in F.subfulva but yellowish in F.androchaete” Berg (2005).
  • fulva has similar straight basal veins but the stipule hairs are white to yellow in F. fulva and brown in F, subfulva.

 Distinguishing between F. androchaete and F. subfulva

Two similar small trees with hairy figs but with very different distributions.

  1. androchaete is very common in Sarawak eg at Sg Lansat and Mulu but rare in Sabah. At Leiden there are only three Sabah records, two from Sipitang and one from Ulu Kimanis-all in South West Sabah.
  2. subfulva has been found throughout the mountains of Borneo but is generally rare (probably mistaken for F. fulva) but there are several records from Kinabalu.

Both species have 4-6 side veins and very distinctive parallel rows of ladder like tertiary veins between the very long basal veins.

Distribution: Very scarce but widespread endemic in the lowlands and hills of Borneo.

Sabah: Mentendok Gorge (western slope of Kinabalu),  Ranau, Kinabatangan, Gng Lotung, Trus Madi.

Brunei: No records.

Sarawk: Bukit Mersing 4th Division, Bukit Selabor, Bukit Megatang, Bukit Gajah (all limestone hills near Kuching). Locally common in the Kelabit Highlands.

Kalimantan: Bukit Kelam, W. Kalimantan. Lianggagang (Hallier).

Species Leaf cm Vein pairs Basal Veins


Basal Veins location Peduncle Stipule hairs Distribution
androchaete 8-20 4-6 1/3-1/2 margin yes yellow N. Sarawak

SW Sabah

aurata 7-20 5-7 1/3-1/2 margin short brown everywhere
fulva 6-25 4-7 1/3-2/3 straight short white to yellow everywhere
inaequipetiolata 6-21 4-7-12 ¼-1/3


margin sessile white to yellow E Sabah only
setiflora 6-14 5-8 1/3-1/2 margin very short brown to yellow Sabah mts Lambir
subfulva 9-25 4-6 ½-2/3 straight yes brown Borneo mountains



Bukit Selabor Serian.jpgGunung Lotong Sabah.jpgTrus Madi.jpg