ABOVE: An aerial view of Tanjung Aru beach, a public park in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. This park is host to some magnificent large fig trees.

For photos of additional figs found around Kota Kinabalu see The fabulous figs of Signal Hill. or click this  KOTA KINABALU link.

Enhaced IMG_2823Ficus microcarpa, the most common fig tree at Tg Aru beach.  Numerous fine examples  grow within the park, both as stand alone banyan figs with stilt roots and as epiphytes  or hemi-epiphytes in the casuarina forest along the beach.

Enhanced IMG_1637 - Copy.JPG
Many locals believe that the numerous banyan roots of Ficus microcarpa host spirits or ghosts known as datuks. These datuks can be both benevolent or vindictive depending on how they are treated. Fear of spirits  protects these fig trees from being damaged. The red shrine  is an attempt to gain the favour of the spirits for  help with high risk business ventures or when intending to gamble.

Ficus drupacea: Rasa Ria Resort

Enhanced IMG_0633 - Copy.JPG
Sabah is located just below the typhoon belt which runs  through the Philippines north of Sabah. Hence the local name for Sabah- Negeri di Bawah Bayu  or Land Below the Wind.  However every ten years or so, the tail end of a Filipino typhoon topples numerous trees along the beach. The first to fall are the top heavy Casuarina equisetiflolia trees ( Pokok Aru) carrying epiphytic  Ficus microcarpa  fig trees. Typhoon Greg on 26 December 1996 and Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana)  on  26 September 2011 felled many trees  at Tg Aru beach.
Ficus caulocarpa . There are several magnificent examples growing in the car park next to Prince Philip Park at Tanjung Aru beach.

Ficus caulocarpa at Tanjung Aru beach

Enhanced IMG_0005 - Copy.JPG
A young Ficus drupacea fig growing on the small beach between the Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort and  and  water village of Kampung Tanjung Aru. Ficus drupacea is one of the most common stranglers in the secondary forest surrounding Kota Kinabalu and is particularly common at Tg Aru beach..
Enhanced IMG_0025 - Copy.JPG
Saplings of Ficus drupacea (left) and Ficus microcarpa (right) growing together on an old Casuarina tree stump at Tg Aru beach.
Enhanced IMG_0516 - Copy.JPG
There are 3 pigeons of two species in this photo feeding on  ripening Ficus drupacea figs. The numerous fruiting fig trees  at Tg Aru beach are the  primary reason that the beach is regarded as one of the best bird watching sites in Borneo

Ficus drupacea “Susan’s Fig” 58 years old

Ficus drupacea and Pied Hornbills

Ficus drupacea and Koels

Ficus drupacea: Signal Hill, Kota Kinabalu


Ficus benjamina , the Weeping Fig (Local name: Waringin)  grows wild in the forests of Borneo and ornamental imported varieties are also often cultivated in towns and parks.  Waringin are common at Tg Aru beach. This particular individual was growing next to the mini golf course at the Shangri-la Tg Aru Resort.

Ficus racemosa IMG_1774.JPG
Ficus racemosa , the Red River Fig (Local name: Tangkol) growing in the car park of the Shangri-la Tanjung Aru resort. This is  Borneo’s most revered fig, providing life to many rivers in Borneo and a cultural icon  (known as Nunuk Ragang)  of the Kadazan-Dusun community in Sabah.

Kota Kinabalu’s Most Famous Fig Tree

Ficus racemosa: Nunuk Ragang

Ficus racemosa at Shangri-la Tanjung Aru 

Enhanced Ficus crassiramea IMG_1677 - Copy.JPG
Ficus crassiramea. One of several large fig trees growing at Third Beach next to the airport runway.

Ficus crassiramea: Introduction

Enhanced Ficus lyrata 3Y3A2780 - Copy.JPGFicus lyrata. An ornamental fig  originating in West Africa frequently planted for landscaping in Borneo. There are several small trees growing on Third Beach next to the airport runway.

Enhanced Ficus lyrata 3Y3A2770.JPG
The large green figs of Ficus lyrata are always sterile as their pollinating fig wasps  are not present in Borneo.

Ficus lyrata: Introduction

Enhanced Ficus tinctoria gibbosa IMG_1995 - Copy.JPG
Ficus tinctoria var gibbosa is one of the most common figs around Kota Kinabalu and along Tg Aru beach. However it is rarely noticed as it usually grows as a small epiphytic shrub high  up in a host tree.

Enhanced Tg Aru Beach 3Y3A2783.JPGThe Malay name Tanjung Aru translates into  Cape of the Casuarina trees . The whole 3 km shore of Tg Aru beach is lined with a belt of shady  Casuarina equisetifolia  trees with needle like leaves that sigh in the afternoon breeze. The Aru trees provide welcome shade to the many  human visitors and nesting holes for many  rare birds including Pied Hornbills, Blue-naped Parrots and Rollers. 

Enhanced IMG_9983 - Copy.jpgTanjung Aru beach faces  the west. Every evening  at sundown hundreds of tourists from mainland China visit the beach to enjoy the sunset. As the sun sinks into the South China Sea,  the glowing sky silhouettes the islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. Pulau Sulug on the left, Pulau Mamutik backed by Pulau Manukan on the right.


Kota Kinabalu.jpg

Google Earth: Map of Tanjung Aru beach, Kota Kinabalu