ABOVE: A fruiting Ficus treubii fig tree gives the appearance of a bead curtain. Photographed in the forest at Sepilok, Sabah where Ficus treubii is locally common. Note that there are two separate crops of figs of different ages which share the same stolons. All photos by Astrid Cruaud and Jean-Yves Rasplus taken on 8 March 2011.
CURTAIN FIG Ficus treubii (King 1888) SECTION: SYCOCARPUS
Latin: Named by George King after the Dutch botanist Melchior Treub (1851-1910) who spent the years 1880-1909 working for the colonial Dutch government of Java on agricultural and botanical projects, often travelling more widely in S E Asia.
Habit: A small to medium sized tree to 17m with distinctive curtains of stolons (roots) bearing figs hanging from the trunk and branches found in both primary and secondary forests throughout most of northern Borneo including ultra mafic soils on Kinabalu (Beaman and Anderson 2004).
Leaves: Small to large to 12-30 cm with 7-12 side veins. The basal veins are no more prominent than the other side veins. The leaf is symmetrical or only slightly asymmetrical, oblong to lanceolate usually with a long prominent drip tip. The leaf is usually revolute (turned inwards at the edge ) at the base or the whole leaf might have revolute edges. The leaf edge is often slightly dentate especially towards the apex. Some herbarium specimens dry greenish perhaps related to ultramafic soils- but this needs confirmation
Fig Fruits: Small greyish green. spotted white and more or less ridged with prominent fleshy bracts around the ostiole. Fruiting trees appear as if there are bead curtains hanging from the trunk or branches. Figs bearing stolons also grow from the base of the tree which then gives the appearance of a bead curtain covering the ground around the tree. The fleshy wall of ripe male figs rapidly turns purple when cut, Female figs do not change colour when cut.
Similar species: In Borneo another endemic fig Ficus stolonifera has a similar growth habit but F. stolonifera figs are red spotted white whilst F. treubii figs are grey green spotted white.
Distribution: A Borneo endemic, locally common in Sabah from sea level eg at Sepilok to 2,000m on Kinabalu at Mesilau. Less common further south but there are records from most of Brunei and Sarawak south to at least Pontianak in West Kalimantan. Not recoded from Gunung Palung by Laman and Weiblen
Ecology: According to Shanahan & Compton (2000) at Lambir, the Large Tree Shrew Tupaia tana fed on the figs. But other evidence (tracks and dental impressions in discarded figs) suggested that nocturnal rats and mouse deer also ate the figs.
From the fig colour and presentation it is also likely that bats and deer eat the figs and disperse the seeds. Wong Siew Te who studied sun bear diet at Danum Valley Field Center found that sun bears frequently ate Ficus treubii figs.