Characteristics of Fig Laurel Tree (Ficus ilicina) in the Wild

Ficus ilicina
Laurel Fig or Natarra Fig (Ficus ilicina) is a species of fig native to semi-desert areas of southwest Africa. The tree is only found on rocks, up to a height of 1,300 m above sea level.

Its natural distribution includes semi-arid to arid areas in western South Africa, Namibia, and southern Angola. From Rooiberg, just north of Vanrhynsdorp to the Orange River and further north.

Laurel Fig is a type of rock-breaking fig that always grows in rock outcrops, between boulders, and granite. He is also a close relative of the Ficus cordata.

Ficus ilicina was first named Urostigma ilicinum by the botanist Sonder, in 1850, from a plant collected by German collector Carl Zeyher. It was transferred to Ficus in 1867.

 

Characteristics of Fig Laurel Leaf

Ficus ilicina Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/peter_erb

The leaves are elliptical to oval, measuring 4.5-8.5 × 1.5-2.8 cm, with a rough texture, and dark green. The petiole is short and strong, 0.5-1 cm long. The tip of the leaf is blunt, to subacute, and the base is tapered.

 

Characteristics of Fig Laurel Fruit

Ficus ilicina Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/mhairimcf

The fruit is round and about 10 mm in diameter, yellowish-green when young and brown to purplish when ripe. The fruit ripens in spring but can bear fruit at any time of the year.

 

Characteristics of Fig Laurel Tree

Ficus ilicina Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/joni_overbosch

The laurel fig tree grows directly between rocks or hugs rocks, it can grow into a shrub to a small tree 4-5 meters high. The bark is grayish-white and smooth.

Growth initially develops a semi-succulent caudex in rock crevices, then opportunistic roots wander, seeking deeper crevices that can form extensive networks over rocks.

Laurel Fig is cultivated and used outside its natural habitat as a bonsai subject. The tree is slow-growing, making it ideal for rocky gardens.

 
HOW TO CULTIVATE LAUREL FIG

Laurel fig propagation is very common from seeds or cuttings. The dried fruit is crushed with the fingers and sown during the spring or summer in a nursery container. Cover with a layer of sand of about 1-2 mm and keep it moist. Germination is fast.

Propagation by cuttings is done by cutting the branches that have become hardwood with a length of about 10-15 cm in spring or summer. Remove the leaves and plant with fertile soil or a mixture of polystyrene and peat. Roots will appear along with new leaves in 2-4 weeks.

 

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