Illustrated above are the male figs of a Ficus recurva liana sticking to a T shirt with the tiny hooked hairs on the surface of the fig.
These figs were found growing at Tawau Hills Park in SE Sabah. The hooked hairs covering the surface of the fig enable the fig to stick to birds and animals providing an additional means of dispersal. Both male Ficus recurva figs and female Ficus recurva figs are covered with these sticky hairs. Ficus recurva is dioecious which means separate male and female plants. Only females figs produce seeds whilst male figs act as brood chambers for fig wasps so it it is not clear why male figs have also evolved to have sticky hairs with no evolutionary purpose. However the purpose may become apparent with further research.
Many plants produce seed pods which stick to the fur coats of animals so that the animal will disperse the seeds more widely. However this is the first record for a fig.
Photos and information provided by Shavez Cheema and Chun Xing WONG of 1Stop Borneo Wildlife.
The Swiss inventor George de Mistral based his very successful invention of a hoop and loop fastener known as VELCRO on the seed head of Burdock a common wayside plant in Europe and northern Asia. Inventor of Velcro hook & loop fasteners George de Mestral
The root of Burdock is edible and a common ingredient in Japanese cooking where it is known as Gobo.