Ficus benjamina, F. stricta and F. subcordata are very similar closely related figs found throughout Borneo. All 3 species have very plain leaves with very faint side veins that run in parallel rows (penniveined).
As a group these 3 related species are easy to tell apart from other strangling figs. But how can you split them from each other ?
Ficus benjamina grows wild along forested rivers and in addition imported varieties from Singapore and Taiwan are often grown around towns and used in landscaping projects. Ficus benjamina has the smallest leaves and figs.
Ficus stricta has medium sized leaves and figs and is common in forested areas.
Ficus subcordata has both the largest figs and leaves and is a relatively uncommon forest strangler.
Based on a fruiting fig collected by Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin of the Sabah Ficus Germplasm Centre at Tabin on 19 June 2021 illustrated in the photographs below we show how to determine which of the 3 species it most closely resembles.
Note that once the DNA of these 3 species has been checked there may well be some changes in the existing taxonomy.
BENJAMINA, STRICTA OR SUBCORDATA ?
All data from Berg & Corner (2005) Ficus in Flora Malesiana Vol.17. Part 2.
Fig diameters are for dry herbarium collections. Multiply by 1.6 for fresh size
|Leaf length cm||2 -14||8 -14||6 – 20||12.0 cm|
|Leaf width cm||1.5 – 6||3.5 – 6||2.5 – 9||5.0 cm|
|Stipule length cm||0.5 – 2||0.7- 3||1 – 4||1.0 cm|
|Fig size diam. cm||0.5 -1.5||0.8 – 1.8||1.2 – 4||2.0 cm|
|Basal bracts length mm||0.5-3 mm||3-10 mm||2-5 mm||5 mm|
According to Berg (2005) Ficus stricta differs from Ficus benjamina and Ficus subcordata by the relatively large basal bracts which are unequal in size and shape. The Tabin fig illustrated in this article has measurements that overlap with both Ficus subcordata and Ficus benjamina as listed above. However based on the relatively large basal bracts it is most likely to be Ficus stricta.