CREEPING FIG Ficus pumila L. (1753) SECTION KALOSYCE
Latin: small, referring to the small leaves.
Habit: An introduced root climber from South China often grown as an ornamental to create green walls and green buildings in Borneo. The plants grown in Borneo produce sterile fruit (without seeds) as there are no pollinating fig wasps yet in Borneo.
Leaves: Root climber which grows over rocks and walls and sometimes tree trunks, producing a dense mat of small green leaves. Different leaves are produced in early stages of growth (the root climbing phase known as bathyphylls) and the later phase when the plant reaches sunlight and starts fruiting (acrophylls).
Fig: The large figs ripen green to yellow to purple and are produced on branches which jut out from the wall. On these fruiting branches the leaves (acrophylls) increase in size reaching 10 cm in length.
Distinguish: Cannot be confused with any other fig found in ornamental gardens.
Notes The ripe dried fig seeds are used to produce a cooling “ice jelly” known as Aiyu, popular in Singapore and Hong Kong. Traditional Chinese herbalists claim that Aiyu jelly reduces blood pressure.
Distribution: An introduced ornamental climber often planted around resorts in Borneo eg at Nexus near Kota Kinabalu. A large Ficus pumila climber grows on the Sabah Muzium building in Kota Kinabalu. There are several examples on the buildings at Kinabalu Park HQ and Mesilau.
Range: Native to Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China. In Hong Kong a common native climber often found growing on old buildings. In Singapore, introduced for urban landscaping. Often used to cover road bridges and concrete walls in a dense green mat.