A fruiting Ficus elastica growing next to Jalan Tamadun in Tambunan township in central Sabah. These figs are almost certainly sterile (no seeds) as the pollinating fig wasps is as yet unknown in Borneo, although present in Java and Singapore.
This article illustrates the formation of calyptrate (cap like) bud covers on Ficus elastica figs. It is believed that the purpose of the bud covers is to protect the young figs against predatory insects. The photos below show a series of growth stages as follows;
- Small triangular hairy brown pyramids cover the immature figs.
- As the fig expands and grows the these top layer of brown bud covers split open into two.
- The bud covers then wither and fall off the fig leaving a second layer of thinner bud covers that cover the fig only from the ostiole down to the top of the green cup.
- The second inner layer of bud covers change colour from green to red and then wither brown and fall off..
There fact that there were two layers of bud covers in Ficus elastica was first recognized by fig expert Professor E J H Corner. See this drawing by fig expert E J H Corner (1978)
See also this article on calyptrate bud covers in Ficus stricta.
All photos in this article were taken by Shuai LIAO on 19 September 2019. Collection #20190398.