Ficus subulata propagated at the BORA Sabah Ficus Germplasm Centre at Tabin.

Ficus subulata is a common scrambling fig of the forest understorey throughout the lowland forests of Borneo. Typically these figs grow epiphytically low down on one tree and then spread sideways on to surrounding trees using long branches which can grow roots which then attach to the trunks of surrounding trees.

The small figs ripen yellow to orange and are dispersed by bulbuls and other small birds.

All photos by Zainal Zahari Zainuddin.

These photos clearly show five key features which can be used to ID Ficus subulata.

(1) Very long smooth sharp pointed stipule which is often reddish green.

(2) An ear or “auricle” on one side of the leaf base.

(3) No hairs on the leaves, twigs or figs, i.e. all smooth or glaborous.

(4) Large oblong leaf with up to 16 pairs of side veins.

(5) The veins are slightly sunken (impressed) giving the leaf a corrugated look.

The figs are small with a short stipe an extension of the fruit joined to a short peduncle (fruit stalk). The figs are smooth but have occasional bracts thinly scattered on the surface of the fig.

Ficus subulata is dioecious which means separate male and female trees which produce separate male and female figs. Male figs ripen yellow whilst female figs ripen bright red.