GREY FIG Ficus virens Miq. (1789) Scarce
Latin: Green referring to the fact that the leaves tend to dry green.
Plant: A medium to very large strangler very widespread in lowland forests but most likely to be found in coastal districts.
Leaf: Large leaf, 8-20cm long x 2.5-9cm wide with a petiole (leaf stalk) usually 2-4.5cm long but occasionally up to 6cm long.
Stipule: The short stubby brown stipule is a useful distinguishing feature when F. virens is not fruiting
Fig: Small fig 0.5-1.5cm usually sessile (no stalk) but sometimes with a very short peduncle up to 0.1cm long. There are 3 prominent basal bracts at the base of the fig. The figs ripen white to pink/grey to purple with black spots.
Similar species: The closely related Ficus concinna is a rare vagrant to Borneo from the Philippines where it is very common. F. concinna has been recorded from the Semporna Islands (East Sabah) and the Derawan Islands (East Kalimantan).
Distinguish: (1) In Ficus concinna the basal bracts are usually absent whereas on F. virens they remain on the fig in herbarium collections.
(2) On average the petiole (leaf stalk) of F. virens is longer than that of F. concinna normally 2-4.5cm long but up to 6 cm long.
(3) The peduncle (fig stalk) on F. virens is usually absent (sessile) or very short up to 0.1cm long whereas with F. concinna the peduncle is usually obvious and up to 0.5cm long.
Distribution: Leiden Herbarium has only five records from Borneo including 3 records from East Kalimantan.
Sabah: Orchid plateau in Ulu Segama; Menaggul River, Kinabatangan; Locally common on the flood plain of the Tempassuk River just north of Kota Belud next to the Kudat Road. At Maliau one of three common genuine stranglers which strangle the host tree with a network of anastomosing roots, including F. forstenii and F. kerhovenii.
Sarawak: Collected by Anderson from the 19th mile Kuching to Bau Road; common in the forest behind Fort Margherita, Kuching. At Lambir the 35th most common fig in the 52ha plot with 3 individuals (Harrison (2003).
Range: Sri Lanka to S. China south to the Malay Peninsula, Philippines east to New Guinea and south to Australia where it is a common fig of the Queensland monsoon rainforests. A famous example near Cairns is known as the Curtain Fig from the multiple long hanging roots. A scarce resident of Singapore. See S.H.Lee et al (2013) Status and distribution in Singapore of Ficus virens.