Characteristics of Lofty Fig Tree (Ficus altissima) in the Wild

Ficus altissima
Lofty Fig or Council Tree (Ficus altissima) is a species of a fig tree in the Moraceae family. It grows on a large and stately hemiepiphyte system native to Southeast Asia.

Its distribution includes the Andaman Islands, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, South China, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It was first described by the Dutch botanist Carl Ludwig Blume in 1826 on Java. It has naturalized in several places in southern Florida.

In various countries, this tree is known by its respective names such as Jeloteh (Malaysia), Jerakah (Indonesia), and 高山 榕 / Gao shan rong (China).

The yellow-leafed variety (Ficus altissima ‘Yellow Gem’) is the most commonly grown as an indoor and yard ornamental plant.


Characteristics of Lofty Fig Leaf

Ficus altissima Leaf

The leaves are alternating, oval or ovate, 10-25 cm long, and 5-20 cm wide.


Characteristics of Lofty Fig Fruit

Ficus altissima Fruit

Figs measuring 2-2,5 cm.


Characteristics of Lofty Fig Tree

Ficus altissima Tree
Source: Wicomb

The lofty fig is a “choke fig” tree that often begins life as an epiphyte on trees such as Lagerstroemia, then lowers aerial roots down to the ground wherein time they become strong enough to support a self-growing tree.

This tree can also grow as a lithophyte in rock crevices or man-made structures. Sometimes it is planted as a shade tree but has a wide root system and is not suitable for urban areas or crowded environments.

Ficus altissima has been grown in southern Florida, where it does not normally seed because no native insects are available to pollinate the flowers. However, the non-native wasp (Eupristina sp.), Which has thrived in the area, appears to be able to pollinate and the tree is now reproducing and becoming invasive.


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