Planting 4 month old Ficus racemosa (Tangkol) seedlings  in the ground at the BORA Sabah Ficus Germplasm Centre at Tabin in Sabah.

The purpose is to  create an orchard which can be used for vegetative propagation of Ficus racemosa in the future. When these  plants are mature the branches will be marcotted or grafted onto younger root-stock to produce plants with early fruiting.

Photos by Zainal Zahari Zainuddin.

The Sabah Ficus Germplasm Centre provides  educational tours and training for organizations interested in growing figs as part of wildlife enrichment or reforestation projects. For further information contact:

Ficus racemosa  is a common fig tree of river banks throughout lowland Borneo.  The local names are Tangkol  (Sabah Malay) Nunuk Ragang (Kadazan Dusun) or Pohon Loa (Indonesian). Tangkol is one of the most prolific fruit trees in the world providing  6 to 8 crops of figs a year.

Almost all the wildlife of Borneo’s rivers and the the surrounding forest  depends of the fruit of Tangkol. Primary consumers are hornbills, bats, fish, civets, macaques,  proboscis, orangutans and elephants. Nearly all the fish eagles, darters and herons found along Borneo’s rivers ultimately depend on Tangkol to feed the fish that they eat.

Preparing the soil for the seed trays.

The current target is to produce 1,000 Tangkol saplings per month. These saplings will mainly be planted on oil palm estates to create wildlife corridors  especially along river banks where the natural vegetation has been damaged.  Over 70 different native species of Ficus are grown at BORA  and thousands of saplings of many different species are produced every month.


At four months old Tangkol saplings can be planted in the ground.

This Tangkol sapling is now 2 metres tall and eight months old. It was originally planted out at 4 months old.

Tangkol normally starts fruiting at around 10 years old. This photo shows a 10 year old branch being grafted on to six month old root stock to create a plant with early fruiting.