Characteristics of Sandpaper Trees (Ficus exasperata) in the Wild

Ficus exasperata
Sandpaper or White Fig (Ficus exasperata) is a species of deciduous tree, native to tropical Africa and southern Asia. The leathery leaves are often used as sandpaper, and the extract is a valuable herbal remedy.

Extracts from the sandpaper tree are used to treat various ailments, including anti-ulcer, hypotensive, lipid-lowering, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic activities.

Indonesians call this tree Amplas Putih (close relative to Ficus ampelas), Indians call it Therakam (തേരകം), and in English, it is known as White Fig or Sandpaper Tree.


Characteristics of Sandpaper Leaf

Ficus exasperata Leaf
Source: Valke

The leaves are alternate, almost opposite, simple, ovate or elliptical with a tapering to blunt base, a pointed apex, and all having a toothed margin.


Characteristics of Sandpaper Fruit

Ficus exasperata Fruit
Source: Valke

The fruit is typical of Ficus, which is small round and appears on young branches. Green when young and orange when ripe.


Characteristics of Sandpaper Tree

Ficus exasperata Tree
Source: Valke

Sandpaper is a small to medium-sized tree, generally found to be 20-30 meters tall. The stems give off aerial roots and over time they become large and help to support heavy branches.

In Southeast Asia, this tree is often used as a bonsai tree in a shallow pot with a hanging aerial root style and a cut stem that is intentionally made to be lumpy like an old tree.


This tree can be propagated from stem cuttings or seed seedlings. Cuttings are the most commonly used method for cultivating them.


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