Illustration above copied from King (1887) The Species of Ficus of the Indo-Malayan and Chinese Countries. Reprint 1969.
WOOLY FIG Ficus lanata Blume (1825) Scarce root climber
Latin: Wool – referring to the thick hair on the twigs and underside of the leaves.
Habit: A root climbing liana very similar to Ficus villosa and equally or more hairy in all parts but usually with less side veins.
Leaf: As with other Section Rhizocladus root climbing figs, most often encountered in the juvenile phase with the lower bathyphyll (juvenile phase) leaves pressed against a trunk. The acrophyll leaves measure 4-11 cm long by 1.5 x 5 cm wide and have 4-6 (up to 7) side veins. The leaf is hairy along the main veins above and thickly hairy below. The leaf is usually revolute i.e. turned inwards at the edges and is foveolate (pitted) below.
Fig: The small figs (0.6 -0.8 cm) ripen red.
Similar species: F villosa and Ficus recurva.
Distinguish: (1) F. villosa leaves have 6-10 side veins, F. lanata averages 5. (2) F. lanata leaves are foveolate below. F. recurva has no hairs and usually 3 to 4 side veins.
Distribution: Leiden Herbarium has only 10 Borneo collections including 6 from Kinabalu including Tenompok (Kinabalu Park HQ), one from Belalong (Brunei) another from the hills of N. Sarawak and two from the mountains of Kalimantan.
Range: Sumatra, Java, Borneo.
Taxonomic Confusion: As Berg himself accepted in his description of Ficus lanata for Flora Malesiana (2005) it is impossible to describe Ficus lanata without overlapping normal variations in Ficus recurva and Ficus villosa.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I am deferring judgement on the taxonomy until more source material is available especially good photographs showing the leaf structure. In the meantime, I am including in F. lanata all plants which look like a very hairy Ficus recurva or a Ficus villosa but with 5 or less pairs of side veins.
See Bergs (2005) description;