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
(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.