Ficus leucotricha (Miq.) Miq.
Urostigma leucotrichum Miq.
Common Name: Rock Fig
Photograph by: Mark Marathon
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Rock fig is a small, robust tree with a spreading crown; it can grow up to 9 metres tall[
]. The plant often begins life as an epiphyte or growing in rocks[
]. When growing in the branch of another tree; it can send down aerial roots as it grows older 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. These 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 sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of fibre.
Australia - South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, West Australia.
Monsoon forest and dry scrub in rocky situations at elevations up to 300 metres[
]. Sand, alluvium, loam, limestone, sandstone, granite. Cliffs, hills, screes, uplands, granite rock pockets in West Australia[
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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[
Fruit - raw[
]. There are conflicting reports on the edibility of the fruit, ranging from 'inedible' to 'very good'. People's opinions can vary, but it should be remembered that the appetities of hungry people frequently become voracious, and not too discriminating[
]. The globular fruit is about 10 - 30mm in diameter[
The bark contains a strong fibre[
The light yellow wood is soft[
]. No used are recorded for it.
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