Photo above shows 5 different species of urban figs (figs living in towns) on an unkempt building in the Semarak suburb of Tawau town.
Urban figs were originally lithophytes (rock lovers) adapted to living on limestone hills or seashore cliffs. In Borneo these lithophytes have rapidly become city dwellers preferring old buildings made of concrete usually with multiple cracks. Urban figs typically have a very strong association with ants which nest in the concrete cracks and store fig seeds in their nests.
The urban figs in the photo above include Ficus parietalis, Ficus septica, Ficus microcarpa, Ficus tinctoria and Ficus cumingii. The reason for so many figs in the same place is most likely due to either bats or starlings roosting above.
Ficus cumingii is a common fig of the Philippines. Until recently there were only 3 records for Borneo, all from rocky hillsides in the Tawau area.
A recent search by Shavez Cheema and Chun Xing Wong from 1StopBorneo Wildlife failed to find this fig on previous sites at Bukit Gemok and Tanjung Batu FR in Tawau but discovered that Ficus cumingii is locally common on old buildings and walls in Tawau town.
All photos by Shavez Cheema and Chun Xing Wong of 1StopBorneo Wildlife
The fig illustrated below is a female fig. Click here for a male fig.