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Useful Tropical Plants

Ficus benjamina

L.

Moraceae

+ Synonyms

Ficus comosa Roxb.

Ficus cuspidatocaudata Hayata

Ficus dictyophylla Wall.

Ficus haematocarpa Blume ex Decne.

Ficus lucida Aiton

Ficus neglecta Decne.

Ficus nepalensis Blanco

Ficus nitida Thunb.

Ficus notobor Buch.-Ham. ex Wall.

Ficus nuda (Miq.) Miq.

Ficus papyrifera Griff.

Ficus parvifolia Oken

Ficus pendula Link

Ficus pyrifolia Salisb.

Ficus reclinata Desf.

Ficus retusa nitida (Thunb.) Miq.

Ficus striata Roth

Ficus umbrina Elmer

Ficus xavieri Merr.

Urostigma benjaminum (L.) Miq.

Urostigma neglectum Miq.

Urostigma nudum Miq.

Common Name:

Ficus benjamina
An ideal shade tree with its wide, dense crown
Photograph by: Gerrit Davidse
Creative Commons License
Ficus benjamina Ficus benjamina Ficus benjamina Ficus benjamina Ficus benjamina Ficus benjamina

General Information

Ficus benjamina is an evergreen tree with a dense, wide crown; it can grow 15 - 30 metres tall. The bole can be 30 - 60cm in diameter[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
,
653
Title
Plants of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.asianplant.net/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Excellent site with brief information on the plant, its range, habitat and uses, plus phots of specimens, close-ops of flowers and leaves etc,
]. The plant usually begins life as an epiphyte, growing in the branch of another tree; as it grows older it sends down aerial roots which, when they reach the ground quickly form roots and become much thicker and more vigorous. They supply nutrients to the fig, allowing it to grow faster than the host tree. The aerial roots gradually encircle the host tree, preventing its main trunk from expanding, whilst at the same time the foliage smothers the foliage of the host. Eventually the host dies, leaving the fig to carry on growing without competition.
The tree is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of fibre plus a low quality wood. It is very ornamental, being widely cultivated in the tropics and subtropics and used as an avenue and shade-providing tree[
345
Title
Minor Products of Philippine Forests
Publication
 
Author
Brown. W. H.
Publisher
Bureau of Forestry, Manilla.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
A useful guide to some of the plants of the area, though terse on details. The book is out of copyright and can be legally downloaded from the Internet.
]. It has long been an extremely popular indoor houseplant because of its attractive shape and tolerance for a variety of growing conditions, usually growing 60 - 300cm tall in the pot[
352
Title
KemperCentreForHomeGardeningPlantFinder
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic cultivation details, plant uses, habitat etc for several thousand species of plants, mainly from the temperate zone.
]. The plant is grown as a pioneer species in reforestation projects in Thailand[
998
Title
Forest Restoration Planting in Northern Thailand
Publication
Proceedings of the Southeast Asian Moving Workshop on Conservation, Management and Utilization of Forest Genetic Resources No. 31/2002
Author
Pakkad G.; Elliott S.; Anusarnsunthorn V. Et al
Website
http://www.fao.org/
Publisher
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Bangkok
Year
2002
ISBN
 
Description
A report on reforestation in northern Thailand by using specific pioneer species. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Known Hazards

The sap from the plant contains furocoumarins, psoralens and ficin[
293
Title
Poisonous Plants of North Carolina
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/poison.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent concise but comprehensive guide to toxic plants that grow in N. Carolina. It lists even those plants that are of very low toxicity, including several well-known food plants such as carrots and potatoes.
]. Frequent contact can cause iching of the eyes, cough, and wheezing; contact and exposure to sunlight can cause skin irritation with itching, redness and stinging. Effects are usually minor or only lasting for a few minutes[
293
Title
Poisonous Plants of North Carolina
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/poison.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent concise but comprehensive guide to toxic plants that grow in N. Carolina. It lists even those plants that are of very low toxicity, including several well-known food plants such as carrots and potatoes.
].

Botanical References

266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.

Range

E. Asia - China, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, Australia, Pacific Islands.

Habitat

Mixed forests near villages at elevations from 400 - 800 metres in southern China[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
]. Primary forests at low and medium elevations in the Philippines[
582
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Philippines
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.bpi.da.gov.ph/Publications/mp/mplants.html
Publisher
Bureau of Plant Industry, Philippines.
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An Internet site from the Philippines Department of Agriculture, giving information in a readable way on the medicinal uses of many plants in their area.
]. Mostly along rivers and streams with sandy to limestone soils[
653
Title
Plants of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.asianplant.net/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Excellent site with brief information on the plant, its range, habitat and uses, plus phots of specimens, close-ops of flowers and leaves etc,
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height20.00 m
Growth RateFast
PollinatorsWasps
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Plants are damaged by frost but will often recover if the frost was light[
423
Title
Desert Tropicals
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The main focus of the site is succulent plants, but it also contains information on a wide range of other species. Usually at least one good photograph, plus basic information about the plant and its cultivation.
].
Succeeds in full sun to partial shade[
352
Title
KemperCentreForHomeGardeningPlantFinder
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic cultivation details, plant uses, habitat etc for several thousand species of plants, mainly from the temperate zone.
]. Grows best in a moist, fertile soil[
302
Title
Tropical Ornamentals; A Guide
Publication
 
Author
Whistler. W. Arthur.
Publisher
Timber Press Inc. Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-448-2
Description
An excellent little guide to some of the more commonly cultivated ornamental plants of the Tropics, often giving some information on the plants other uses.
]. Tolerant of strong winds[
713
Title
Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr/cd-keys/rfk/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online resource giving botanical information, and a little bit about plant usage, for over 2,700 species of plants found in the Australian rainforest.
]. The leaves are very sensitive to small changes in light. When it is re-located it reacts by dropping many of its leaves and replacing them with new leaves adapted to the new light intensity[
372
Title
Flowers of India
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.flowersofindia.net/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Good quality photos and terse details on almost 2,000 species and cultivars.
].
Widely grown as an ornamental, the tree is classified as invasive in some Pacific Islands[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
].
A fast-growing species[
998
Title
Forest Restoration Planting in Northern Thailand
Publication
Proceedings of the Southeast Asian Moving Workshop on Conservation, Management and Utilization of Forest Genetic Resources No. 31/2002
Author
Pakkad G.; Elliott S.; Anusarnsunthorn V. Et al
Website
http://www.fao.org/
Publisher
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Bangkok
Year
2002
ISBN
 
Description
A report on reforestation in northern Thailand by using specific pioneer species. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
Fig trees have a unique form of fertilization, each species relying on a single, highly specialized species of wasp that is itself totaly dependant upon that fig species in order to breed. The trees produce three types of flower; male, a long-styled female and a short-styled female flower, often called the gall flower. All three types of flower are contained within the structure we usually think of as the fruit.
The female fig wasp enters a fig and lays its eggs on the short styled female flowers while pollinating the long styled female flowers. Wingless male fig wasps emerge first, inseminate the emerging females and then bore exit tunnels out of the fig for the winged females. Females emerge, collect pollen from the male flowers and fly off in search of figs whose female flowers are receptive. In order to support a population of its pollinator, individuals of a Ficus spp. Must flower asynchronously. A population must exceed a critical minimum size to ensure that at any time of the year at least some plants have overlap of emmission and reception of fig wasps. Without this temporal overlap the short-lived pollinator wasps will go locally extinct[
413
Title
Global Invasive Species Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.issg.org/database/welcome/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Very detailed information on almost 400 species (with more being added) of plants that have become weeds in areas outside their native range.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

The bark of the root, the root itself, and the leaves are boiled in oil and applied on wounds and bruises[
582
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Philippines
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.bpi.da.gov.ph/Publications/mp/mplants.html
Publisher
Bureau of Plant Industry, Philippines.
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An Internet site from the Philippines Department of Agriculture, giving information in a readable way on the medicinal uses of many plants in their area.
].

The juice of the bark (latex?) has a reputation in the Philippines for curing liver diseases[
582
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Philippines
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.bpi.da.gov.ph/Publications/mp/mplants.html
Publisher
Bureau of Plant Industry, Philippines.
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An Internet site from the Philippines Department of Agriculture, giving information in a readable way on the medicinal uses of many plants in their area.
].

The pounded leaves and bark are applied as a poultice in the treatment of rheumatic headaches[
582
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Philippines
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.bpi.da.gov.ph/Publications/mp/mplants.html
Publisher
Bureau of Plant Industry, Philippines.
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An Internet site from the Philippines Department of Agriculture, giving information in a readable way on the medicinal uses of many plants in their area.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The tree provides a dense shade and has an aggressive root system, usually shading out plants underneath[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
].
The tree is planted as a pioneer species in northern Thailand in reforestation projects to restore native woodland - it is planted in degraded woodland and open areas in a mix with various other species that all have the ability to grow fast; produce dense, weed-suppressing crowns; and attract seed-dispersing wildlife, particularly birds and bats[
998
Title
Forest Restoration Planting in Northern Thailand
Publication
Proceedings of the Southeast Asian Moving Workshop on Conservation, Management and Utilization of Forest Genetic Resources No. 31/2002
Author
Pakkad G.; Elliott S.; Anusarnsunthorn V. Et al
Website
http://www.fao.org/
Publisher
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Bangkok
Year
2002
ISBN
 
Description
A report on reforestation in northern Thailand by using specific pioneer species. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The tree responds well to trimming and can be grown as a hedge[
352
Title
KemperCentreForHomeGardeningPlantFinder
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic cultivation details, plant uses, habitat etc for several thousand species of plants, mainly from the temperate zone.
]. However, the aggressive rooting system makes it unsuitable for growing near buildings, drains etc., and it would also compete for nutrients with other plants growing nearby[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Other Uses

The inner bark is a source of fibre[
345
Title
Minor Products of Philippine Forests
Publication
 
Author
Brown. W. H.
Publisher
Bureau of Forestry, Manilla.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
A useful guide to some of the plants of the area, though terse on details. The book is out of copyright and can be legally downloaded from the Internet.
]. The strips of bast of this species are salmon-buff; some are soft and pliable, others hard and stiff. Rope made from the bast possesses a fair degree of tenacity. With a tensile strength of 480 kilos per square centimeter. Wetting reduced the strength only 2%[
345
Title
Minor Products of Philippine Forests
Publication
 
Author
Brown. W. H.
Publisher
Bureau of Forestry, Manilla.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
A useful guide to some of the plants of the area, though terse on details. The book is out of copyright and can be legally downloaded from the Internet.
].

The bark contains about 4.2% tannins[
582
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Philippines
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.bpi.da.gov.ph/Publications/mp/mplants.html
Publisher
Bureau of Plant Industry, Philippines.
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An Internet site from the Philippines Department of Agriculture, giving information in a readable way on the medicinal uses of many plants in their area.
].

A latex can be obtained from all parts of the plant[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
,
582
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Philippines
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.bpi.da.gov.ph/Publications/mp/mplants.html
Publisher
Bureau of Plant Industry, Philippines.
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An Internet site from the Philippines Department of Agriculture, giving information in a readable way on the medicinal uses of many plants in their area.
]. It contains 30% caoutchouc, along with 59% resin[
582
Title
Medicinal Plants of the Philippines
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.bpi.da.gov.ph/Publications/mp/mplants.html
Publisher
Bureau of Plant Industry, Philippines.
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An Internet site from the Philippines Department of Agriculture, giving information in a readable way on the medicinal uses of many plants in their area.
].

The wood is of low quality, but is used for temporary constructions, mouldings, interior work, cladding, drawers,
small domestic articles, fruit crates etc[
611
Title
Five hundred plant species in Gunung Halimun Salak National Park, West Java
Publication
 
Author
Hari Priyadi et al
Website
http://www.cifor.cgiar.org
Publisher
Center for International Forestry Research; Indonesia.
Year
2010
ISBN
978-602-8693-22-6
Description
Brief details of the uses of 500 Indonesian plants. It is available as a PDF document to download from the internet.
].
The wood is used for fuel[
611
Title
Five hundred plant species in Gunung Halimun Salak National Park, West Java
Publication
 
Author
Hari Priyadi et al
Website
http://www.cifor.cgiar.org
Publisher
Center for International Forestry Research; Indonesia.
Year
2010
ISBN
978-602-8693-22-6
Description
Brief details of the uses of 500 Indonesian plants. It is available as a PDF document to download from the internet.
].

Propagation

Seed -
Semi-ripe cuttings[
423
Title
Desert Tropicals
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The main focus of the site is succulent plants, but it also contains information on a wide range of other species. Usually at least one good photograph, plus basic information about the plant and its cultivation.
].

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