Ficus obscura collected at higher levels on Gng Silam an ultramafic mountain on the coast of East Sabah (Leiden L.1599409).

L.1599352 Karamuak OBSCURA.jpg


Latin: Dark or indistinct – possibly alluding to the many confusing varieties  which Berg (2005) split into two species both with widespread distributions- Ficus obscura and Ficus pisifera (now Ficus scaberrima) .

Habit: Small tree or climber  with clasping roots to 10m most common in East Borneo,  but uncommon or absent in west Sabah, Brunei and Sarawak..

Leaves: Large leaves 3.5-28cm long by 2.5-9.5cm wide with a rough surface and toothed edges. The sessile (without stalks) leaves are distichous like F. hemsleyana. The asymetrical leaves with 6 – 10 pairs of side veins often have a projecting base on one side but without a distinct ear or auricle.

Sex: Dioecious.

Figs: Small 0.8-1.2 cm) grow in the leaf axils on the branches. The figs hang from short peduncles. Figs are covered in dense short hairs.

Similar species: Both F. hemsleyana and F. scaberrima are common epiphytic figs with large rough, toothed, asymmetrical leaves without leaf stalks (petioles) and with small figs which grow in bunches on the trunk and branches.


(1) F. hemsleyana has symmetrical leaves with a very distinct ear or auricle on the base of one side.

(2) F. obscura figs are usually larger than F. scaberrima figs and are covered in short dense hairs. The twigs are also usually more hairy than F. scaberrima twigs.

Distribution: Most common in east Borneo. Uncommon or absent in Sarawak where F. hemsleyana is abundant and in Sabah ,Brunei and Sabah where F. scaberrima is abundant.

Range: Thailand south to Malaya, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Philippines and Sulawesi. Singapore: Rare and considered to be critically endangered (Chong et al. 2009).