Ficus altissima growing in Dehong Prefecture, Yingjiang County, Yunnan China.

All photos by Zhen Zhang with thanks to Shuai LIAO

Note the extraordinary calyptrate bud covers.  Bud covers are specialist bracts which cover the young figs.  The bud covers prevent pollinating fig wasps entering the fig even thought the fig itself is producing volatiles (scents)  to attract the fig wasps. See this article by Zhang et al (2014) Ficus altissima and Calyptrate bud covers.

As the bud covers prevent access to the fig, the pollinating fig wasps huddle in a crowded mass  outside the fig waiting on a nearby leaf until the bud covers fall off. Zhang et al (2014) speculate that the reason for the bud covers may be to prevent parasitic Non Pollinating Fig Wasps (NPFW)  attacking the fig externally before  the pollinating fig wasps get access.

The research was carried out at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden  (XTBG )in Yunnan, SW China, a world leading research center into Asian figs. Note that there are a number of other fig species  present in the area,  one of which,  Ficus benjamina also produces figs covered in calyptrate bud covers.  However it is not yet known if Ficus benjamina figs also limit entry to pollinating fig wasps in the same manner as Ficus altissima.

For a list of Bornean figs which produce calyptrate bud covers, see this article.

At least one fig Ficus elastica,  produces two separate layers of bud covers.

Note that the pair of young figs above the ripe red fig are covered in a thick hairy layer in two halves which expand as the fig grows and later fall off when the fig is ready to be pollinated. These covers are called calyptrate bud covers. Calyptrate means "clasping".


In the photo above the bud cover on the immature fig on the right has been removed by hand exposing the  immature fig.

This orange jelly bug appears to be feeding on the latex in the fig and was probably placed on site by insect farming ants.