To accelerate the  development of a fig orchard it is possible to plant the cut branches of strangling figs.

The advantage is faster growth and faster fruiting. Fig saplings are often eaten by deer, so the bigger the tree the more likely it is to survive.

In this case the chosen fig is Ficus microcarpa which is very common and readily available but it should be possible to use other strangling figs as well.

All photos by Dr Zainal Zaharu Zainuddin the site manager of  the fig orchard at the

Sabah Ficus Germplasm Project.

at Tabin in Sabah


One disadvantage of planting large branch cuttings is that until the cutting is growing strongly and can produce abundant sticky latex  the wood is subject to attack by wood boring beetles which lay their eggs under the bark. The beetle larvae then bore tunnels in the wood with the help of a symbiotic fungi.  The original beetles were covered in fungal spores  which infect the wood around the beetle eggs causing decay of the wood which is then eaten by the larvae. This symbiotic relationship is at the expense of the fig tree. With fig trees growing in the forest  the beetles and their larvae are eaten by squirrels and woodpeckers but in an orchard there are no natural predators.

Borneo hosts over 20,000 species of beetles the majority of which feed on wood both dead and alive using symbiotic fungi break down the cell walls so they can be eaten by the beetle larvae.

Collecting a branch from a Ficus microcarpa strangler to use for planting.