Photo shows John Payne displaying a certificate  issued by the Malaysia Book of Records  to the Sabah Ficus Germplasm Centre  (SFGC) at Tabin in Sabah, for the largest living collection of fig trees in Malaysia. As Sabah is a world centre of diversity for figs, the collection of at Tabin is almost certainly the largest living collection of fig trees in the world.

There are approximately 850 species of figs worldwide with two centres of diversity,  Borneo and New Guinea each of which hosts approximately 150  (mainly different) species.

Currently the SFGC grows 85 different species of figs.

See SFGC -Ficus list as at 01 November 2022. Nearly all these figs are native to Borneo including many endemics.

The fig nursery at Tabin was established around 15 years ago to provide food for the captive sumatran rhinos, after it was discovered that the leaves of pioneer “forest gap” fig trees such as Ficus aurata were the favourite food  of the rhinos. Many of the figs at SFGC are now fruiting  and attracting the local wildlife.

The SFGC site is surrounded by the 120,000 ha of the  fully protected forest of the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, rich in wildlife including elephants, sunbears, orangutans and gibbons all of which eat large amounts of figs. Around 70 species of figs  grow naturally in the surrounding forest.

Tourists can stay at the Tabin Wildlife Resort

Researchers interested in fig research should contact :


SFGC Video introduction