Ficus punctata is a common large liana with very large bright orange figs that occurs throughout the forests of Borneo.
F. punctata is easily recognizable from the giant figs that hang from a bare liana that reaches from the ground high into the canopy.
But how does the F. punctata liana reach the canopy without support from the host tree ?
The links and photographs in the article below illustrate the sequence of events;
- F. punctata starts as a root climber with tiny leaves from a seed at the base of the host tree.
- The sapling F. punctata spreads out in a dense mat of roots and tiny leaves over the base trunk of the host tree gradually expanding up the trunk.
- Eventually the mat of tiny roots and leaves reaches the sunlight of the canopy.
- The multiple small roots consolidate into a single liana stem which develops leafy branches with larger leaves at canopy level.
- The original dense mat of tiny leaves and roots at the base of the host tree dies away and fall off.
- The liana becomes free hanging and starts fruiting.
- Ficus punctata figs are so big they cannot be eaten by birds such as hornbills, only animals with teeth such as binturongs, orangutans, macaques and gibbons.
- The liana acts like a single rope ladder for these mammals to easily climb up to eat the ripe figs and disperse the seeds.
Thanks to Yulinda Wahyuni, Shavez Cheema and Chun Xing WONG of 1 Stop Borneo Wildlife