Ficus buxifolia De Wild.
Ficus micropison Mildbr.
Ficus lingua is an evergreen shrub, sometimes with a climbing habit, or can become a tree with a spreading, much-branched crown; it can grow up to 30 metres tall[
]. It often starts life as an epiphyte in the branch of a tree and can eventually send down aerial roots that, once they reach the ground, provide extra nutrients that help the plant grow more vigorously. These aerial roots can completely encircle the trunk of the host tree, constricting its growth - this, coupled with the more vigorous top growth, can lead to the fig outcompeting and killing the tree in which it is growing[
The tree is traditionally used as a source of fibre from which cloth can be made. It is sometimes grown to provide shade and as an ornamental and bonsai tree[
Tropical Africa - Liberia, through the moister parts of Africa to Uganda and Kenya, south to DR Congo, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland.
Evergreen humid forest; coastal bushland; coral outcrops; ? Hemi-epiphytic, strangler or secondarily terrestrial; sometimes growing on rocks. At elevations up to 1,200 metres[
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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[
The tree is sometimes grown to provide shade[
Cloth is traditionally made by removing pieces of bark from the bole and large branches, then soaking it in water for several days, drying it in the shade and then beating it with a mallet to make it supple enough for use[
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