The Ficus pisocarpa fig shown above  growing in the Sabah Ficus Germplasm Centre (SFGC)  in the rhino food garden at Tabin in Sabah  was cloned as a  marcot in 2016 from a fig growing on a forested peak (puncak) in the nearby Permai oil palm plantation. In February 2021 this marcot fruited for the first time as shown in the photos below.

By a strange coincidence the mother tree and four marcot clones  which  were collected 5 years ago are all fruiting within a few weeks of each other.

Numerous observations of wild strangling figs (Section Conosycea)  in Borneo have shown that these fig trees appear to fruit at random unpredictable intervals. Fruiting is out of sync with the normal annual fruiting season in Borneo and also the mass forest fruiting (masts) triggered by severe droughts.  There are at least two hypothesis to explain random fruiting.

(1) Fruiting is based on available internal resources to supply the extra energy required for fruiting. Thus the longer the interval the more likely a strangler will have accumulated the resources to  produce fruit.

(2) Alternatively fruiting is driven by an internal genetic clock set to generate fixed intervals between fruiting events.

For example Asian bamboos fruit on a synchronized cycle  of many year intervals where clones of related bamboos flower/fruit at the same time. If fruiting patterns are genetically controlled it is possible that strangling figs will fruit on the same cycle as the parent trees. This hypothesis should be easy to check as many of the figs cloned as cuttings or marcots at SFGC in the least 10 years are beginning to fruit  for the first time.

Thanks to Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin of the SFGC for the information and photos.



The photos directly above show the parent tree of the 9 year old cutting is also fruiting at the same time as the clone.