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MAGNOLIA LEAF FIG Ficus magnoliifolia  Miquel (1825)  SECTION:OREOSYCEA

Latin:-With leaves similar to magnolia leaves.

Plant: A striking tall tree (to 45 m) with a pale straight trunk and large buttresses found in, Java, Sumatra and Mindanao in the Philippines but rare in the wet rain forests of Borneo.

Young trees have been recorded with black trunks.

Leaves: Long oblong leaves 9-20 cm x 2.5-8.5 cm with 10-12 pairs of prominent side veins and short petiole (leaf stalk). The leaves have distinctive sunken  and clearly looped side veins – giving the leaves a corrugated or bullate appearance but with an unusually wide clear margin between the end of the loops and the edge of the leaf.

Sex: Monoecious.

Fig: The figs have stipes but not peduncles.  The figs ripen yellow/green.

Ecology: The figs are dispersed by fruit bats. Berg (2005)  notes that the latex is poisonous as with Ficus albipila. The latex has been recorded as both white and yellow. Kochummen (2000) notes: “Latex citron yellow, acrid, poisonous”.

Similar species: The five species of Section Oreosycea figs in Borneo are easily recognized by their (1) Straight tall  pale trunks (2) Massive buttresses (3) White or yellow sap (4) Leaves dry with a curious shiny surface.  This appearance mimics the look of many Artocarpus trees  which also produce latex. However the  leaves of Artocarpus are usually much larger and  most Artocarpus fruit  look very different.

Distinguish: Most likely to be confused with with Ficus callosa or Ficus annulata. However the leaves of F. callosa have long petioles and are oval in shape rather than oblong and the side veins are not clearly looped as with F. magnoliifolia.

Ficus annulata figs have a peduncle with bracts on the surface of the fig and no stipe.

Distribution: The very widespread distribution indicates that this fig was probably much more common during dry periods in the past but the population has crashed as the weather got wetter and warmer over the last 20,000 years. There are a few scattered records from Sabah eg SAN 33972, Sarawak-Ulu Tubau, Bintulu, and Niah See Pearce (2005) Fig list for Niah Caves and Kalimantan West Kutai. There are no records from Kinabalu, Beaman (2004) or Brunei (Coode 1996). Recently rediscovered on an oil palm estate near Lahad Datu in East Sabah.

Range: A Sundaland fig found from the Andaman Islands east to Malaya, Sumatra, Java and Borneo but also including the Philippines, Sulawesi and the Lesser Sunda islalands  Flores and Sumbawa. Never recorded from Singapore.


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