In wet virgin lowland or hill  forest anywhere in Borneo you will be surrounded by tall trees covered in root climbing lianas and epiphytes. Almost everyone of these trees will be hosting one or more species of root climbing figs in Sections Rhizocladus and Kalosyce.

How do tell the figs from the other root climbers.

  1. Break off a leaf. If the break produces white or yellowish latex then the plant must be either  a fig  (Family Moraceae) or a root climber in the family Apocynaceae eg a hoya species.
  2. Do the leaves grow in opposite pairs ? YES = Apocynaceae.
  3. Do the leaves  grow alternately on opposite sides along the liana ?  YES = Fig.

Check the local large liana covered trees. You may not have realized it but you are surrounded  by many species of root climbing figs. Once your eyes are opened you will see figs everywhere !

All photos taken by Mike Bernadus at the Danum Valley Field Centre in Sabah.

The juvenile (bathyphyll) leaves of an unknown species of root climbing fig. Note that the leaves are spaced alternately along the liana stem. If the leaves were opposite each other this plant could not be a fig.

The juvenile (bathyphyll) leaves of an unknown species of root climbing fig. Note that the leaves are spaced alternately along the liana stem. If the leaves were opposite each other this plant could not be a fig.