Photo above shows two different species of root climbing fig plants Ficus recurva (left) and Ficus villosa (right) growing next to each other on an old stump next to the Temburong river, Brunei. Both plants show bathyphyll (juvenile) phase leaves.
There are two groups of root climbing figs in Borneo. Section RHIZOCLADUS (11 species) and Section KALLOSYCE (11 species). All root climbing figs grow from the ground upwards tightly clinging to a tree trunk. When they reach the canopy their leaves change shapeand they start branching and fruiting.
During the root climbing (juvenile) phase the leaves are known as BATHYPHYLLS and when they reach the canopy, change shape and start fruiting the (adult) leaves are known as ACROPHYLLS.
In this article we illustrate both the bathyphyll (juvenile) and acrophyll (adult) leaves of Borneo’s 2 most common root climbing figs, F. recurva and F. villosa. This enables them to be easily distinguished in the field in their bathyphyll phase when they are not fruiting.
Most of the root climbing figs in Section Kalosyce and Section Rhizocladus found in Borneo show differences in their adult and juvenile leaves. See this article on Ficus pumila as an example.