A new variety of Ficus tinctoria, F. tinctoria var hutan  is described for the first time.

F. tinctoria is one of the worlds most widespread species of figs which until now was thought to occur in only two varieties. Ficus tinctoria gibbosa and Ficus tinctoria tinctoria. Both of these  varieties occur in Borneo.

F. tinctoria gibbosa is one of the most common epiphytic figs, found  growing on  rocky cliffs and buildings in many towns including Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau and Kuching.

Ficus tinctoria tinctoria  is widespread east of Borneo on many islands far into the Pacific . However the only known locations in Borneo are on Pulau Maratua and the Derawan islands off the east coast of Borneo.

Recent discoveries indicate a third variety (possibly a new species)  is scarce but widespread in undisturbed hill forest from Kinabalu south to Gunung Niut in NW Kalimantan. We have provisionally named this variety Ficus tinctoria var hutan. (Hutan is the Malay name for forest).

The leaves of all three species are very similar. See the list below for differences between the figs of Ficus tinctoria var gibbosa and F. tinctoria var hutan.

Ficus tinctoria Ficus tinctoria var. gibbosa Ficus tinctoria var.  hutan
Fig Smooth with distinct stipe


No stalk or neck. Fig is attached directly to the twig
Ripe color Both male & female figs ripen orange Male figs ripen waxy green

Female figs ripen orange

Peduncle (Fig stalk) No peduncle but distinctive stipe (fig neck) No peduncle or stipe
Ostiole 01 Flat with flat bracts Hollow with a prominent rim.
Ostiole 02 Closed Open
Basal bracts At the top of the stipe where it joins the twig 3 small basal bracts on the fig body
Leaf 01 Raised mid-rib above and below Raised midrib above and below
Leaf 02 Occasionally rhombic Often rhombic
Leaf 03 Attenuate and uneven at the base Attenuate and uneven at the base

Information thanks to Dr Zainal Zahari Zainnudin, Yulinda Wahyuni, Chun Xing Wong , Shavez Cheema and Ripin.