This species has often been confused with Ficus sakalavaram - indeed some authorities unite the two under the name Ficus sycomorusK].
Ficus cocculifolia Baker
Ficus comorensis Warb.
Ficus damarensis Engl.
Ficus gnaphalocarpa (Miq.) A.Rich.
Ficus integrifolia Sim
Ficus mucuso Welw. ex Ficalho
Ficus scabra Sim
Ficus trachyphylla (Miq.) Miq.
Sycomorus antiquorum Gasp.
Sycomorus gnaphalocarpa Miq.
Sycomorus rigida Miq.
Sycomorus trachyphylla Miq.
Common Name: Mulberry Fig
The dried fruits
Photograph by: Self
Mulberry fig is a large, semi-deciduous spreading tree, with a dense crown that casts a lot of shade; it usually grows up to 21 metres tall, with occasional specimens as tall as 46 metres[
]. The bole can be up to 100cm in diameter and is occasionally buttressed[
The plant is sometimes cultivated, mainly in the E and S Mediterranean region (Crete, Israel, Syria, Yemen), for its edible fruits[
], which are sold in local markets[
]. It is one of the oldest cultivated fruit plants in Egypt and Ethiopia, often depicted in old Egyptian mural and tomb paintings[
]. The timber was used for the sarcophagi of the pharaohs[
]. An important tree planted for ornamental purpose and shades near temples, roadsides, wells and community places such market centres in rural areas[
]. A popular species to grow as a bonsai[
Africa - drier areas from Senegal to Ethiopia, south to S. Africa, east to the Arabian Peninsula and Madagascar.
A common savannah tree that grows in high water table areas. Often found along watercourses such as streams and rivers, swamps and waterholes[
]. Also riverine forests, riparian woodland, left as single trees in farmland[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
A plant of drier areas in the tropics and subtropics. It is found at elevations ranging from sea level to 2,000 metres, growing in areas where the temperature can fall as low as 0°c or go up to 40°c[
]. The tree is sensitive to frost but can withstand some cold[
]. It succeeds in areas where the mean annual rainfall can vary from 500 - 1,800mm, with a maximum of 2,200mm[
Grows best in a sunny position[
]. Prefers a deep, well-drained loam to clay soil rich in nutrients[
]. Sandy soils with a shallow groundwater level may also be suitable[
]. The best site for trees is next to drainage lines, streams, rivers, springs or dams[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 5 - 7.5[
In at least some parts of its range the tree can flower and fruit throughout the year[
]. A tree can bear several crops of fruit a year[
Plants tolerate lopping[
Continuous and adequate water supply is necessary for high yields, but rainfall during fruiting may cause fruits to split and favour growth of fungal rots[
The tree has an invasive root system, which should be borne in mind when positioning trees[
Growth rate is fairly fast at 1 - 1.5 m/year in frost-free areas[
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 or cooked. The mature fruits are eaten fresh, stewed, or dried and stored for later use[
]. Sweet and aromatic[
]. Eaten as a snack, the fruits are chewed to suck out the juice and then the rest is rejected[
]. The fruit is said to be of inferior quality to the common fig (Ficus carica)[
]. The fruit can also be used for the preparation of an alcoholic beverage[
]. The fruits can be up to 10cm long and 3.7cm wide[
The leaves are used in soups and groundnut dishes[
The bark is chewed together with kola nut[
The wood ash is commonly used as a salt substitute[
The latex in the sap is used to coagulate milk[
The bark is used for the treatment of scrofula, coughs, and throat and chest diseases[
The milky latex is used for treatment of dysentery and chest diseases, or is applied to inflamed areas[
Ringworm is treated with the bark and milky latex[
The leaves are said to be effective against jaundice and as an antidote for snakebite[
]. They are also used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, coughs and chest conditions[
The roots have laxative and anthelmintic properties[
The leaves have been shown to be an effective treatment for diarrhoea[
Grown as a shade tree in coffee plantations[
Wild fig can be used for sand-dune fixation and riverbank stabilization[
Shed leaves form a valuable litter improving the nutrient status, infiltration rate and water-holding capacity of the soil.
Usually intercropped with bananas as an understorey[
The inner part of the root is used as weaving fibre, and a strong rope can be made from the inner bark[
An abundant white latex flows from cuts in the stem[
The bark is a dye sources for traditional 'bogolan' textiles, giving red-ochre to brownish colours[
The wood is creamy brown, has a fairly uniform structure, is very light (air-dry 510 kg/m³), soft to moderately hard, tough, strong, easy to work, finishes smoothly and holds nails firmly. It is not very durable and is easily attacked by termites[
]. Mainly used for making mortars and pestles, drums, stools, doors, beehives, dugout canoes, carvings and for house building[
The wood can be used as firewood and for making charcoal[
]. Various peoples throughout Africa use a piece of dry wood from this tree as the base block when starting a fire by the friction method[
Seed - viable seed is difficult to obtain[
]. It germinates best at a temperature around 20°c[
Branches with a diameter of 50-150 mm can be used as large cuttings planted direct into the soil[
]. To avoid rotting of the tips, they must be left in the shade for a few days to dry before planting[
]. Most of the leaves should be removed before planting in 1 metre deep holes with some sand at the bottom. This prevents rotting of the cuttings and stimulates root formation[
Smaller cuttings can also be made from either the mature wood or from wood of the current season's growth[
]. They are first planted in the nursery to induce rooting and then planted out in the field[