The history of Susan’s fig, the large Ficus drupacea strangler outlined by the orange oval circle is fully documented. This fig tree was planted as a small sapling by Susan Phillipps on 16 February 1963 in the almost bare garden of her new house at Tg Aru beach, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Susan Phillipps died on 01 February 2013 age 98 just before the 50th birthday of the fig. The house is now abandoned and the garden is overgrown with large trees including many figs. Helicopter photo taken in May 2021 by Bob Hartley.
The coastal forest at Tg Aru beach (Prince Philip Park) is regarded as one of the best bird watching sites in Borneo. The combination of the ancient casuarina trees which provide nesting holes for hornbills, kingfishers, parrots, bats and owls together with the abundant large fig trees attract many species of birds difficult to see elsewhere. A large variety of insectivorous birds feed on the pollinating fig wasps and flocks of House Swifts gather over the fig trees when the wasps emerge. Orange outline shows Susan’s fig in May 2021. Photo by Bob Hartley.
Susan’s fig on 3 October 2011 when the fig tree was 48 years old. Quentin Phillipps to show the scale
Susan’s Fig on 7 February 2021 when the fig tree was almost 58 years old. Chun Xing Wong to show the scale.
Susan’s fig was originally planted as a sapling in the ground not on a host tree. Most strangling figs don’t have trunks- just branches and aerial roots . In this case the aerial roots have hoisted the center of the fig into the air.