Ficus septica growing along the access road to the Nexus Resort at Karambunai, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The indentation at the base of the fig is the “ostiole” an entrance gate giving access to the tiny flowers found inside  all  fig fruits. Ficus septica is dioecious (separate male and female trees) each producing either male or female figs. After pollination by tiny fig wasps which enter through the ostiole, male figs only produce  fig wasps and female figs only produce seeds.

Ficus septica IMG_0220
Ficus septica figs ripen green and are not eaten by birds, only by small fruit bats (and civets)  which detect ripe figs by smell. Note how the white veins on the leaf all “point” towards the figs to guide the bat in the dark towards the ripe figs.
Ficus septica IMG_0275.JPG
Ficus septica leaves grow in whorls – so at night, on this plant the bat sees four sets of arrows pointing toward the ripe figs.
Ficus septica IMG_0300 - Copy.JPG
On a dark night, the leaf itself is hardly visible but the white leaf  veins appear to  reflect all incoming light so enabling the bat to clearly see the target.

Ficus septica IMG_3724.JPG

This is a female fig which has already been entered by female fig wasps which forced their way in through the ostiole (the hole at the base of the fig). The ostiole bracts are overlapping and pointing inwards so they are an effective one-way gate. The female fig wasps pollinate the tiny female flowers  inside the fig which later produce seeds. The female fig wasp  can get in but not out and dies within the fig. The female fig wasp dies on a suicide mission in order that the fig can produce seeds.

Ficus septica IMG_0227.JPG

Ficus septica IMG_0229.JPG
The rocky cliff at the back of the Nexus access road is rich in different species of figs including Ficus variegata, Ficus drupacea and Ficus tinctoria var gibbosa.    
Ficus gul Map NW Borneo
Map of NW Borneo (Sabah, Malaysia)  showing the location of Nexus Resort about 45 minutes drive north of Kota Kinabalu.