The first 2 illustrations and text pages are copied from Berg & Corners’ (2005)  Flora Malesiana treatment of Ficus.  Note the areas of yellow highlighted in the text, which describe the only distinctive differences between the two species.CCI30052018.jpgFicus francisci



Illustrations and text copied  from Corner (1978) Ficus dammaropsis and the Multibracteate species of Ficus Sect. Sycocarpus.


Ficus francisci and Ficus cereicarpa are two very similar  small trees with large leaves and cauliferous figs endemic to wet forested areas of Borneo.

  1. The leaves and growth form of Ficus francisci are almost identical to Ficus cereicarpa except that Ficus francisci is  c. 20% smaller in all parts.

2. According to Berg (2005) the only key difference between the two species is that F. francisci has NO NODAL GLANDS  whilst F.cereicarpa does have NODAL GLANDS. However see this illustration below from Corner (1978).

Corner 1978 Ficus cereicarpa and F. francisci compared - 03.jpg
The green line  at the bottom of the green circle points to a nodal gland in F. francisci whilst the two red lines point to nodal glands in F. cereicarpa, i.e. both species have nodal glands.

3. Another distinction between the two species  is the number of bracts  on the side of the fig fruit. The fig fruits of Ficus cereicarpa are covered with prominent bracts whilst the fig fruits of Ficus francisci are smooth with longitudinal ridges and no bracts on the external surface of the figs. But Berg’s (2005) description also says of  of Cereicarpa  “(with or without lateral bracts). ”

Thus whilst the  two illustrations in Berg (2005) show a clear distinction between the two species the reality is that they  illustrate two ends of a spectrum  and the appearance of the two species does overlap. This may indicate a hybrid zone in some areas of northern Borneo where the two species overlap.

Corner (1978) Ficus cerecarpa and Ficus francisci compared.jpg
This excerpt from Corner (1978)  notes that the fig wasps of F. cereicarpa and F. francisci  are different but closely related species  which again indicates a high possibility of hybrids.
Corner (1978) Cereicarpa illustration.jpg
SEED DIFERENCES:  Ficus cereicarpa illustrated by  Corner (1978). Note that the small fig seeds (technically fruits)  are covered with tiny indentations. The seeds of both F. cereicarpa and F. francisci illustrated by Crevel in Berg (2005)  are smooth. The drawing of seeds above with small pits could be a mistake or a genuine difference between the two species.  Indentations in fig seeds would normally indicate that secondary dispersal by ants is ecologically important.


Berg (2005) notes that he has not come across any ficus hybrids  during his research but also notes that the recent scientific literature  on Ficus indicates that hybrids are of regular occurrence  in low numbers especially where  the habitat is isolated  e.g. on islands or in  the increasingly common patches of fragmented forest in Borneo.

Extract from Berg (2005)  p. 58

Berg (2005) Fig Hybrids.jpg

Botanists often try “to force  square pegs into round holes” to coincide with their personal  concept of  what constitutes a particular species. Ficus morphology in Borneo is incredibly variable  even within species.

I believe that it is better to  recognize that during the process of  evolution and speciation there are bound to be many instances where hybrids and intermediates between two species occur, and to highlight and clarify these differences, rather than hiding them.

This does not negate the fact that the vast majority of Ficus species listed in Berg (2005) are valid species  and does not negate the existence of clearly recognizable different species as with Ficus cereicarpa and Ficus francisci.

On this website we take a pragmatic approach in distinguishing between F. cereicarpa and F. francisci. If there are lateral bracts on the side of the fig fruit we call it F. cereicarpa. If there are no lateral bracts we call it F. francisci.