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;

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The base of the Ficus stolonifera tree in the photograph  at the top of the page. Note the  stolons or root like structures which both hang from the trunk and extend out at ground level. Note also the  hanging bunches of small figs on the left hand side of the photo.

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  1. 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.
  2.  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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The local botanist on the right was Meijer’s assistant  and tree climber Kapis Sisiron from Tongud (Thanks to John Payne).
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Ficus ribes  from Java. Illustration copied from Kooders and Valeton (1913-1918  in 4  volumes) Atlas der Baumgarten von Java 

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.