Characteristics of Rock Fig Tree (Ficus abutilifolia) in the Wild

Ficus abutilifolia
Rock Fig or Grootblaarrotsvy (Ficus abutilifolia) is a species of rock-breaking fig that is native to two regions of Africa, one population to the north, and one to the south of the equator.

This tree grows in a confined space on cliff faces and rock outcrops and is easily recognized by its large, smooth leaves and soft, pale bark.

The natural distribution area of Rock Fig trees throughout South Africa at an altitude of 100-1000 m asl in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Guinea.

 

Characteristics of Rock Fig Leaf

Ficus abutilifolia Leaf
Source: flickr.com/Bernard DUPONT

The leaves are broadly ovate and heart-shaped almost round and somewhat similar to the Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa), measuring between 7.5-20 x 6.5-18 cm. They are hairless on both surfaces, sometimes with velvety hairs underneath, with 4-9 pairs of secondary veins, entire wavy edges, and 10-12 cm long petiole.

 

Characteristics of Rock Fig Fruit

Ficus abutilifolia Fruit
Source: flickr.com/marcoschmidt.frankfurt

The fruit is 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter, appears singly or in pairs on the leaf axils of the terminal branch, the fruit stalk is 1.5 cm long, the fruit is green when young and turns yellow to red when ripe.

 

Characteristics of Rock Fig Tree

Ficus abutilifolia Tree
Source: flickr.com/marcoschmidt.frankfurt

Rock figs grow as shrubs or small to medium-sized trees to 5-8 meters (although rarely exceed 10) meters in height. Whitish bark to yellowish white and smooth, and slightly peeling. The trunk is usually bent or wrinkled, the branches are sturdy, hairless, and marked with indistinct leaves and scars.

Due to its brightly colored bark, this tree is easy to spot in the wild.

IUCN Red List put Ficus abutilifolia into Least Concern (LC) status because of its limited habitat.

 

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