The illustration shows the front cover of FLORA MALESIANA, Volume 17/Part 2-2005 Moracea – Ficus which contains a comprehensive description of all the figs native to the Malesian region from S. Thailand east to New Guinea. This essential book is the starting point for all fig enthusiasts in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.
The shortened name of this 730 page book (Berg 2005) is quoted in almost every article on this website. Berg (2005) can be freely downloaded from the Flora Malesiana website.
Berg chose to illustrate the front cover with a photograph of Ficus satterthwaitei taken by fellow Dutch botanist H. P. Nooteboom.
However according to Berg’s own description this can only be Ficus nota based on the lateral bracts on the side of the fig fruit shown in the photograph !
SATTERTHWAITE’S FIG Ficus satterthwaitei Elmer (1906) SECTION: SYCOCARPUS
Latin: Named for Mr. G. W. Satterthwaite, a teacher in Leyte, Philippines.
Habit: Small tree to 12m with a branched trunk often covered in large bunches of cauliferous green/yellow figs, a very common fig of hill forest on Kinabalu and the Crocker Range.
Leaf: The leaves are often cordate ( with a round lobe) on one side at the base of the leaf. Normally 6-10 side veins
Fig: The large figs (2-3.5 cm) grow on short branchlets in bunches hanging from the trunk (cauliferous). The figs are very variable but have prominent bracts or ridges around the ostiole. However according to Berg (2005) there are no lateral (side) bracts on the fig. Therefore the fig illustrated on the cover of Berg (2005) must be Ficus nota ! Figs ripen green/yellow and are dispersed mainly by small fruit bats and palm civets.
Similar species: One of 7 species of cauliferous bat figs which ripen green to yellow brown including.
(1) Ficus fistulosa: Has no prominent bracts either around the ostiole or on the side of the fig fruit .
(2) Ficus lepicarpa: Shape is more globe like and there is a line of bracts that run right around the middle of the fig like an equator line. The fig fruit is often (but not always) covered in scurfy brown markings.
(3) Ficus nota leaves are cordate (heart shaped) on both sides at the base. F. satterthwaitei is cordate only on one side.According to Berg (2005) Ficus nota sometimes has bracts on the side of the fig. F. satterthwaitei does not have side bracts on the fig but enlarged lumpy bracts. around the ostiole. (Note: Most likely F. satterthwaitei and F. nota are con-specific i.e. the same species) .
(4) Ficus rosulata (F. schwarzii) has no bracts on the fig apart from a tent like group of sharp black triangles over the ostiole.
(5) Ficus septica has prominent white veins on the leaves. The grayish green fig is marked with longitudinal ridges and is heavily spotted with very small raised dots.
(6) Ficus moderata. Only one collection is known from 1,200m near Mesilau. Almost certainly a synonym for Ficus nota/Ficus satterthwatei
Distinguish: Separated from other green bat figs by the many stubby bracts on the base of the fig surrounding a sunken ostiole.
Distribution: A common fig on the forested slopes of Kinabalu and the Crocker Range up to 1,300m. Especially common along the roadside on the slopes above Kg Moyog c.500m asl on the Kota Kinabalu-Tambunan Road. There are no records from the Sabah lowlands or south of the Sabah border.
Range: Philippines (Luzon, Negros, Samar, Leyte, Mindanao) and northern Borneo. Note that this fig is obviously arrived in Borneo from the Philippines and is also closely related to Ficus nota another very similar Philippine fig, which is of doubtful occurrence on Kinabalu.