(Illustration Above) An unusual variety of Ficus oleifolia collected from the summit of Gunung Serapi, Kubah NP (Matang) near Kuching by Odoardo Beccari. This collection was originally described as Ficus oleifolia variety dodonaeiformis (Gagnep).
OLIVE LEAF FIG Ficus oleifolia King (1888) SECTION: FICUS
Latin: Olive leaf fig from the shape of the leaf resembling a Mediterranean olive leaf.
A small montane shrub with very variable leaves. The most common fig above 1,500 m on Kinabalu in rocky areas. Corner found this fig at 3,250 m on the east ridge of Kinabalu growing in cracks in the rocks-the highest altitude of any fig in the world.
Fig: The small figs (0.4-0.8) ripen bright crimson unlike F. deltoidea which has larger figs which ripen orange green with a red ostiole.
Similar Species: Ficus deltoidea which may also grow as a shrub with narrow leaves.
Distinguish: According to Berg (2005) the only way that F. oleifolia can be distinguished with certainty from F. deltoidea is by the “persistent epidermis of the petiole” (referring to dried herbarium collections). In the field distinguish by colour and size of figs and by the glands on the rear of the leaf of F. deltoidea.
Taxonomy: Berg (2005) splits Ficus oleifolia in Borneo into 2 sub-species
(Note: In my personal opinion this division is unlikely to be sustainable because of the variety of different forms in the wild which are not easy to pigeonhole) .
- Ficus oleifolia. intermedia with small to large oblong leaves and veins pointing forward. The petiole (leaf stalk) is 0.5 to 1.0 mm thick and
- Ficus oleifolia oleifolia with smaller narrower leaves in which the midrib departs at right angles from the midrib and which occurs to 3,250m and often on ultramafic soils. The leaf stalk (petiole is 0.5-1.0mm thick.
Distribution: Most common in hill and montane forest from 500m to 3,250m throughout Borneo. A common roadside shrub in rocky areas of the KK-Tambunan Rd at c. 2,000m where the main road reaches its highest point at the junction with the side road up to the summit of Gng Alab.
Range: Thailand, Malaya, Sumatra, Borneo Philippines and Sulawesi.
Ficus oleifolia from Tenompok, 1,500m on Kinabalu