Moreton Bay fig
Vascular – Exotic
Trees & Shrubs - Dicotyledons
Commonly planted ornamental. The seed is bird dispersed and seedlings usually start as epiphytes (so difficult to detect until well-established); as they mature they can overwhelm and kill the supporting tree. Common tree hosts include Phoenix canariensis, Butia spp., pohutukawa, titoki and plane trees. May also establish on stone walls and old buildings.
Ficus elastica (rubber plant) is often cultivated (mainly indoors in cooler climates). Its leaves have many parallel and equal-sized veins (see photos) extending from the midrib whereas F. macrophylla has reticulated (network of) veins, some more prominent than others. Some parks around the world have F. macrophylla incorrectly labelled as ‘rubber trees’.
Long lived tree. Reproduces by seed. Small, long-lived are dispersed by birds and gravity.
Reason for introduction
ficus: The Latin name for fig tree, possibly derived from the Hebrew word fag
macrophylla: Big leaf
References and further reading
Ogle, Colin; Ogle, Robyn (2010): Pollination, fruiting and spread of Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla) in New Zealand, with notes on other Ficus species New Zealand Botanical Soc. Newsletter 100: 9-13