Ficus stolonifera growing at Sepilok Forest Reserve, Sandakan, Sabah.
Photo taken in August 1960 by the famous tropical botanist E. J. H. Corner who took a particular interest in figs. This photo is one of 1631 of Corner’s personal photographs stored in the Cambridge University Library. These photographs have recently been digitized and are now available online at;
NOTES ON CORNER’S (AUGUST 1960) PHOTOGRAPH OF FICUS STOLONIFERA
- Ficus stolonifera is a rare fig in Sabah and generally throughout Borneo although reported to be locally common at Lambir Hills NP in N. Sarawak.
- Ficus stolonifera is a Borneo endemic and the individual fig tree illustrated above is a truly magnificent specimen. No wonder that Corner was keen to record this find for posterity.
- Note that the stolons covered in figs hang down to ground level from about 6 m high on the left side of the trunk. The stolons also extend 3 m to the right (supported on 3 sticks each about 1 m high) well past the individual on the right hand side of the photo.
- The European on the left hand side of the photo is believed to be Willem (Willie) Meijer a Dutch botanist who worked as the Sabah Forest Dept. senior botanist from 1959-1968.
- The local botanist on the right was Meijer’s assistant and tree climber Kapis Sisiron from Tongud (Thanks to John Payne).
Ficus ribes is the most close relative of Ficus stolonifera. Ficus ribes is common in Java and Sumatra but is rare in Borneo whilst F. stolonifera is endemic to Borneo and relatively common. However the growth habits and appearance of these two figs are very similar. This illustration of F. ribes is therefore included to show what Ficus stolonifera looks like in the forest. Note that the fig fruit of both Ficus ribes and Ficus stolonifera ripen bright red, and a tree in full fruit is a spectacular sight.