Ficus anthelmintica Mart.
Ficus finlayana Warb.
Ficus glabrata Kunth
Ficus krugiana Warb.
Ficus longistipula Pittier
Ficus palmirana Dugand
Ficus radulina S.Watson
Ficus segoviae Miq.
Ficus werckleana Rossberg
Ficus whitei Rusby
Galoglychia martinicensis Gasp.
Pharmacosycea angustifolia Liebm.
Pharmacosycea brittonii Rusby
Looking up the trunk into the canopy
Photograph by: R. Aquilar
Ficus insipida is usually a medium to large-sized, evergreen tree with an open, spreading crown; it can grow from 12 - 40 metres tall[
]. The bole is moderately straight, cylindrical, slightly compressed; it sometimes branches from low down but can also sometimes be unbranched for most of the tree's height; it can be 45 - 70cm in diameter[
]. The tree often has large surface roots[
The plants greatest value for people is probably its latex, which is used as an anthelmintic and has sometimes been exported[
]. The plant is sometimes grown in home gardens as a supply of this latex[
]. Its edible fruit is sometimes gathered from the wild for local use, whilst it is also used for craftwork[
S. America - Peru and Brazil, north through Ecuador and Central America to Mexico.
Forest or open fields or hillsides, often along roadsides, frequently near habitations, usually at low elevations, but ranging from sea level to elevations of about 1,400 metres[
]. Found in wet evergreen and seasonally dry deciduous forest[
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Prefers a sunny position[
A fairly fast-growing plant[
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 - Very soft and juicy when ripe[
]. Of mediocre flavour, it is more commonly eaten by birds and other mammals than by humans[
]. A good size, it ranges from 15 - 40mm or even more in diameter[
The latex that flows from the trunk and branches is used commercially in meat tenderizers, edible collagen films, chillproofing beer and as a curdling agent for making cheese[
The latex that flows from the trunk and branches is considered to be antiinflammatory, porgative, tonic and vermifuge It has a range of medicinal applications, being mixed with water and taken internally[
].. It is an effective anthelmintic, though it can be drastic, even corrosive[
], and is recommended in the treatment of ancylostomiasis (hookworm infection of the small intestine, which often leads to anaemia) and jaundice[
]. It is also said to be aphrodisiac, a remedy for anaemia and to aid the memory[
The leaves contain psoralen and several triterpenes[
A copious white, bitter-tasting latex flows from the trunk and branches when they are cut[
]. It has medicinal uses[
The young, hard fruits are used for making designs on hats and probably other articles[
]. If a cross section of the fruit is pressed against the surface, a blackish circular figure of more or less permanence is left upon it[
The heartwood is light brown, with dark gum striping and extensive pale or dark gray areas caused probably by stain; the sapwood is a creamy yellow or almost white. The texture is medium tos coarse; the grain straight to interlocked; lustre is medium; there is no distinctive odour or taste. The wood is light in weight to moderately heavy; soft; of low natural durability. It seasons quickly, with risks of twisting. It is easy to work, though it saws woolly; planing, moulding and turning are good to excellent; it takes a moderately smooth finish. It is used for doors and panels, light boxes, mouldings, furniture etc[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a shaded position in a nursery seedbed. A low germination rate can be expected, with the seed sprouting within 20 - 60 days[
]. When the seedlings are 3 - 4cm tall, transplant them to individual containers. They are ready to plant out 8 - 9 months later[
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