March 19
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Plant Species of the genus Ficus

Information about this genus
Name: Ficus
Cultivation: CULTIVATION: No fig species come from regions with severe frost and winter snow. The most frost hardy is probably the edible fig (Ficus carica) which can cope with occasional frosts down to about 21?F (?6?C). It is grown against heat-storing brick walls in northern France. Many other species tolerate light frosts if protected when small, especially those from regions such as southern Africa, Australia or China. Figs are vigorous growers and most species will quickly outgrow a small garden; many warm-climate gardeners have come to regret planting out their treasured rubber plant or weeping fig against the house wall when it got too big for its pot. Root growth can be rampant, heaving paths and retaining walls and invading drains, though not all species are equally troublesome in this respect. The larger figs come into their own in parks and avenues, impressing with their huge shady canopies and massive sculptured trunks. Propagation can be achieved from seed if this is obtainable (sow on the surface of a moist open medium), but cuttings are the more usual method with bottom heat an aid to rooting. Cuttings of species with thick branches and large leaves can be difficult or impossible to root, and these species are usually air-layered. The edible fig is the most easily propagated species, from leafless winter cuttings or by ground-layering of low branches.
Description: Nearly every gardener has come across members of this genus in one form or another?majestic park and forest trees in warmer climates; tough glossy-leaved indoor plants such as the rubber tree; or the edible fig of Mediterranean climates. What connects these to form the genus Ficus of over 750 species, scattered through all continents and many islands, is the unique structure of the fig itself. Although appearing to be a single fruit, it is in fact a most peculiar kind of inflorescence (flower-bearing structure). Figs belong to the mulberry family (Moraceae), and most other members of this family have small greenish flowers borne on a fleshy spike, the whole developing in the fruiting stage into a cluster of tightly packed fruitlets. In Ficus the whole arrangement is turned inside-out, with the spike hollowed out and almost completely closed over at the top and the tiny flowers and developing fruitlets lining the inside. This structure has co-evolved with a group of small insects, the fig-wasps, which spend most of their life cycle inside the fig. The fig-wasp larvae feed on the sterile ?fodder? or ?gall? flowers, the fertile flowers being less attractive as food. When the adult wasp develops it escapes from the fig through a briefly open apical pore; it crawls over the fertile flowers, cross-pollinating them, before escaping and soon depositing its eggs through the skin of another, younger fig. Each wasp species is adapted to one or few fig species and is found only in that fig?s native region. Cultivated exotic figs, lacking the appropriate wasp, hardly ever produce fertile seed. Fig species show almost endless variation. A small minority are climbers or creepers rooting from the stems like ivy, but the rest range in size from large shrubs to very large trees. Many figs of tropical forests display the ?strangler? growth habit, starting as seedlings high on tree trunks and quickly sending roots to the ground, the roots then fusing and encircling the host tree which is eventually strangled. Some of these also develop ?curtains? of aerial roots or even the ?banyan? growth form in which aerial roots from lower boughs thicken to form extra trunks, sometimes extending over large areas. Two constant features of Ficus are milky sap, and the large stipule enclosing the tip of each twig and leaving a ring-like scar when it falls. Leaves vary from tiny to huge?over 3 ft (1 m) long in some tropical species?and their shape is equally variable. Many species shed their leaves in the tropical dry season. The ?fruits? (figs) likewise vary greatly in size, color and surface features. Nearly all are edible to birds or mammals, thereby aiding dispersal of their seeds, but relatively few species bear figs that humans find tasty.

Specie Vernacular Zone
carica 10?12
Ficus abutilifolia 9?12
Ficus aspera 10-12
Ficus aurea 10?12
Ficus auriculata 10?12
Ficus benghalensis 10?12
Ficus benjamina 10?12
Ficus celebensis 10?12
Ficus coronata 9?11
Ficus dammaropsis 9-11
Ficus deltoidea 10?12
Ficus destruens 10?12
Ficus elastica 10?12
Ficus lutea 10?12
Ficus lyrata 9?12
Ficus macrophylla 9?11
Ficus microcarpa 10?12
Ficus natalensis 10?12
Ficus palmeri 10?12
Ficus platypoda 10?11
Ficus pleurocarpa 9?12
Ficus pseudopalma 10?12
Ficus pumila 9?11
Ficus religiosa 10?12
Ficus rubiginosa 9?11
Ficus superba 9?11
Ficus sur 10?12
Ficus sycomorus 10?12
Ficus virens 10?12

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