ABOVE: Ficus auriculata growing at the Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre at Sepilok in Sabah (Photo by Astrid Cruaud and Jean-Yves Rasplus) .

Two species of  figs introduced to Borneo  from Asia, Ficus auriculata and Ficus obpyramidata   are often eaten on the Asian continent but have never become popular in Borneo. In both cases only the ripe female figs are eaten.

Despite the abundance of wildlife that feeds  on  wild figs in Borneo, Bornean figs are rarely eaten by humans. We list below the most common wild  figs eaten by locals in Borneo.

01 Ficus fistulosa IMG_6895.JPG
Locals eat the unripe,  female, figs of several  dioecious bat dispersed fig species which ripen green including Ficus fistulosa, Ficus satterthwaitei, Ficus rosulata, Ficus nota and Ficus variegata. The figs are not cooked but chopped up as part of a sour salad known as “ulam” eaten  as a side dish with rice.
01 SatterthwaiteiIMG_8889 - Copy.JPG
Ficus satterthwaitei. Only unripe female figs are eaten as part of a green salad.


01 Ficus variegata IMG_3936
Ficus hetropoda at Samboja Lestari, Balikpapan. Only the unripe female figs are eaten as part of a green salad.
01 Ficus racemosa IMG_3003.JPG
Despite the delicious looking appearance Ficus racemosa figs  are normally only eaten when green and unripe as  part of a side salad. The ripe red figs are edible but fibrous. Humans use them for fish bait.
Ripe Ficus racemosa. Despite the delicious external appearance, the ripe figs are very fibrous and filled with fig wasps which makes then unpleasant to eat. In the fig above the fig wasps have just left as can be seen by the holes in the gall flowers.

Callosa IMG_3197

Ficus callosa . In the Philippines and elsewhere in Asia  the unripe figs of Ficus callosa have a reputation of being edible when cooked but I have never heard of these figs being eaten in Borneo.

Ficus montana 3P7A1598 - Copy.JPG
Ficus montana leaves are edible when cooked  and are frequently grown  for this purpose in  Java and occasionally harvested for this purpose from the wild  in Borneo.
01 Ficus grossularioides IMG_0919.JPG
Ficus grossularioides  leaves are foraged from the wild and eaten cooked in Borneo.
02 P7142045.JPG
Ficus megaleia earth figs growing at Kipandi in the Crocker Range in Sabah. Photos by Linus Gokusing.
The most delicious figs (for humans to eat)  in Borneo are ripe  female earth figs including Ficus malayana, Ficus uncinata and Ficus megaleia. However the ripe figs are quite small, and difficult to find !

Unfortunately the delicious Edible Fig Ficus carica is very difficult to grow in Borneo’s ever wet climate.