SANDY LEAF FIG Ficus heteropleura                                            SECTION SYCIDIUM

Greek: Hetero= uneven/different. Pleuro= ribs referring to the prominent veins on the underside of the leaf.

Habit: A medium size shrub or epiphyte with variable  shaped  leaves  with prominent veins below and a distinctive caudate drip tip recorded from most areas of Borneo. This fig is relatively uncommon in comparison with  several very common confusion species Ficus parietalis,  Ficus sinuata and Ficus tinctoria gibbosa.

Leaves:  The leaf surface is rough like sandpaper (scabrid) similar to the surface feel  of  the leaves of Ficus tinctoria gibbosa and Ficus scaberrima.  The leaves are symetrical  with very distinctive raised veins below. There may be no basal veins or the basal veins may run along the  very edge of the leaf.

Fig fruits: Typical of bird dispersed small sycidium figs. Female figs ripen bright red. Male figs are smaller and ripen dull orange. See photo at the head of this article of male figs.

Sex: Dioecious= separate male and female plants

Confusion Species

(1) Ficus parietalis Has ladder like teriary veins not net like veins on the undersurface of the leaf.

(2) Ficus sinuata   Best distinguished by the  smooth appearance of the fig fruits which are ramiflorus on the twigs.

(3) Ficus tinctoria gibbosa has a waxy/shiny upper surface to the leaf. The leaves are often rhombic or asymmetric, the undersurface leaf veins are not prominent and the fig fruits are smooth not hairy.

(4) Ficus kuchinensis  the fig fruits are smaller and covered in dense hairs.

Borneo: It is strange that this fig which is  so common in surrounding areas is relatively scarce in Borneo with records from Long Pasia, Danum, Tabin, Sepilok and Tawau in Sabah. Widespread in Sarawak including Lambir, Pulong Tau and Marudi and Kalimantan e.g. Samboja Lestari near Balikpapan.

Range: Abundant in the Philippines, Sulawesi, Singapore and Java. Less common in Borneo, Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. 

Heteropleura Java TYPE 007497611-L0040120.jpg
The TYPE collection of Ficus heteropleura  from Java held at NATURALIS