Bark Cloth Fig
Common Wild Fig

Ficus thonningii
(Ficus microcarpa)

Ficus thonningii, a strangler fig at Uhuru Gardens, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

A Strangler Fig growing upon and with a Cape Fig at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi, Kenya, March 2013.

broken petiole exudes milky latex resin, Ficus thonningii from Nairobi © Michael Plagens

TREE: Mature trees up to 30 m tall with spreading branches and smooth, gray bark. Seedlings begin as epiphytes when birds/mammals leaves seeds on branches of other trees. The plant eventually sends roots to the ground and may eventually "strangle" the original host tree. In the photo below of the Uhuru Tree the smooth root-stems that have reached the soil are lighter gray and for now, narrow.

FLOWERS: Small greenish flowers go mostly unnoticed and are famously pollinated by minute wasps.

LEAVES: Elyptical leaves have smooth margins. Stems and leaves ooze milky latex when damaged/broken.

RANGE: Several related fig species have apparently been classified as F. thonningii and some may be conspecific with Chinese Banyan, F. microcarpa. I will revisit this page as published works offer some clarity. Native to Kenya.

FRUIT: Fruit turn orange when ripe and soon attract many birds and primates to feed. The seeds are thus spread to new locations and the seeds may be deposited on the limbs of other fruit trees, including other figs.

UNARMED. No thorns, but latex can be irritating.

a root of Ficus thonningii has reached the soil and might eventually overtake the host, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

The Uhuru Tree was planted 12 December 1963. Sometime later the Bark-cloth Strangler Fig started in the crown as an epiphyte. Now the two trees are entwined and growing together.

Moraceae -- Fig Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, Created on 29 July 2013