Ficus microcarpa is the world’s most widely cultivated ornamental fig tree both as a house plant or bonsai and also as a street tree.
To produce seeds and be dispersed from cultivation F. microcarpa first needs to be pollinated by it’s own species specific fig wasp Eupristina verticillata.
A key paper by Compton et al (2015) Compton et al (2015) Fig wasp followers of introduced Ficus microcarpa lists numerous countries where Eupristina verticillata is present and Ficus microcarpa has the potential to become invasive.
Ficus microcarpa is the most common street tree in all the cities and large towns in Sicily a large Italian island in the Mediterranean close to N. Africa.
Compton et al report that Eupristina verticillata has been present on Sicily since at least 2012
On a visit in late April-early May 2022 we travelled extensively in Sicily looking for evidence that Ficus microcarpa had escaped from cultivation but although we counted thousands of Ficus microcarpa street trees we found only two Ficus microcarpa trees which appeared to have escaped from cultivation. Both were in the centre of Catania the second largest city in Sicily. A photograph of one of these is shown above and below.
A row of Ficus microcarpa planted as a street tree in the centre Palermo, Sicily in the Piazza Marina.
Ficus microcarpa fig trees growing in the Garibaldi Gardens, Piazza Marina, Palermo Sicily.
Ficus microcarpa, Piazza Marina, Palermo, Sicily. Planted for shade .
An “escaped” Ficus microcarpa growing near Piazza Duomo in the centre of Catania the second largest city in Sicily. This one of only two escapes we found despite the fact that Ficus microcarpa is the most common street tree throughout Sicily.