Ficus rubiginosa

Ficus rubiginosa

name = Port Jackson Fig

image_width = 240px
image_caption = "Ficus rubiginosa"
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Urticales
familia = Moraceae
genus = "Ficus"
species = "F. rubiginosa"
binomial = "Ficus rubiginosa"
binomial_authority = Desf. ex Vent.

The Port Jackson Fig ("Ficus rubiginosa") , also known as the Little-leaf Fig or the Rusty Fig, is a native of eastern Australia and a banyan of the genus "Ficus" which contains around 750 species worldwide in warm climates, including the edible fig ("Ficus carica").

Like all figs it requires pollination by a particular wasp species to set seed. This actually occurs fairly readily as fig seedlings are a common sight in walls, cracks, crevices and buildings in urban areas of cities such as Sydney. Well known in parks and public gardens in east coast towns and cities, it is also a valuable plant for wildlife and habitat. Old specimens can reach tremendous size. Its aggressive root system precludes its use in all but the largest private gardens, although it is highly popular and well-suited for use in bonsai.


The Port Jackson fig was described by French botanist René Louiche Desfontaines. Its specific epithet "rubiginosa" related to its rusty coloration. Indeed, "rusty fig" is an alternate common name. It was known as "damun" (pron. "tam-mun") to the local Eora and Darug inhabitants of the Sydney basin. [cite book|author=Troy, Jakelin|year=1993|title=The Sydney language|publisher=Jakelin Troy| location=Canberra|isbn=0-646-11015-2|pages=p. 61]


"Ficus rubiginosa" forming a spreading densely shading tree when mature, and may reach 30 m (100 ft) in height, although it rarely exceeds 10 m (30 ft) in the Sydney region.cite book |author = Fairley A, Moore P |title=Native Plants of the Sydney District:An Identification Guide |year=2000 |edition= 2nd ed.|publisher=Kangaroo Press |pages=p. 62|location=Kenthurst, NSW |isbn=0-7318-1031-7] Its appearance is that of a small version of its relative the Moreton Bay Fig, the Port Jackson being generally smaller, with smaller fruit and leaves. Its ovate to elliptic leaves are 6-10 cm long on 1-4 cm petioles. Often growing in pairs, the figs are yellow ripening to red in colour, tipped with a small nipple and on a 2-5 mm stalk.

Having similar ranges in the wild they are often confused, the smaller leaves, shorter fruit stalks, and rusty colour of the undersides of the leaves of the Port Jackson Fig being the easiest distinguishing feature.

In tropical and humid climates, the lower branches of the Port Jackson Fig may form aerial roots which strike root upon reaching to the ground, forming secondary root systems. This process is known as "banyaning" after the banyan tree of which it is a characteristic.

Distribution and habitat

"Ficus rubiginosa" occurs from north Queensland southwards along the eastern coastline of Australia to the vicinity of Bega on the South Coast of New South Wales. It is found on the edges of rainforest and gullies and rocky hillsides.


It is pollinated by a symbiotic relationship with a fig wasp species ("Pleistodontes imperialis") The fertilised female wasp enters the receptive 'fig' (the syconium) through a tiny hole at the crown (the ostiole). She crawls around the inflorescenced interior of the fig, pollinating some of the female flowers. She then lays her eggs inside some of the flowers and dies. After several weeks development in their galls, the male wasps emerge before the females. They chew holes in the galls containing females and fertilise them through the hole they have just chewed. Males return later to mated females, and enlarge the mating holes to enable the females to emerge. Some males then chew their way through the syconium wall, which allows the females to disperse after collecting pollen from the now fully developed male flowers. Females then have a short time (< 48 hours) to find a tree with receptive syconia to successfully reproduce and disperse pollen.


It is commonly used as a large ornamental tree in eastern Australia, in parts of New Zealand, and also in Hawaii and California in the USA, where it is also listed as an invasive species in some areas. It is useful as a shade tree in public parks and golf courses.cite book |title=A Field Guide to Australian Trees |last=Halliday |first=Ivan |year=1989 |publisher=Hamlyn Australia |location=Melbourne |isbn=0-947334-08-4 |pages=p. 200] Despite the size of the leaves, it is popular for bonsai work as it is extremely forgiving to work with and hard to kill; the leaves reduce readily by leaf-pruning in early summer. It has been described as the best tree for a beginner to work with, and is one of the most frequently used native species in Australia.cite journal | last = McCrone| first = Mark | year = 2006 | title = Growing Port Jackson Fig as Bonsai in a Warm Temperate Climate | journal = ASGAP Australian Plants As Bonsai Study Group Newsletter | issue = 11 | pages = 3-4] A narrow leaved form with its origins somewhere north of Sydney is also seen in cultivation. [cite book |title=Rainforest to Bonsai |last=Webber |first=Len |year=1991 |publisher=Simon and Schuster |location=East Roseville, NSW |isbn=0-7318-0237-3 |pages=p. 114]

"Ficus rubiginosa" is also suited for use as an indoor plant in low, medium or brightly-lit indoor spaces, although a variegated form requires brighter light. [cite book |title=Australian Native Plants for Indoors |last=Ratcliffe |first=David & Patricia|year=1987 |publisher=Little Hills Press |location=Crows Nest, NSW |isbn=0-949773-49-2 |pages= p. 90]

It is very easily propagated by cuttings.

ee also

*Gardner R.O., Early J.W. [ "The naturalisation of banyan figs (Ficus spp., Moraceae) and their pollinating wasps (Hymenoptera: Agaonidae) in New Zealand"] New Zealand Journal of Botany, 1996, Vol. 34: 103-110


* [,_books,_techniques_and_tools/figs_with_maggots2 Burke's Backyard 2003 - Figs with Maggots] (sic.)
* [ Uses of Port Jackson Fig to Aboriginal Australians]
* ITIS 507896

External links

*APNI | name = Ficus rubiginosa | id = 38740

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