Characteristics of Moreton Bay Fig Tree (Ficus macrophylla) in the Wild

Ficus macrophylla
Moreton Bay Fig or Australian Banyan (Ficus macrophylla) is a species of evergreen fig tree of the family Moraceae native to eastern Australia, from the Wide Bay-Burnett region in the north, Illawarra in New South Wales and on Lord Howe Island.

Its common name comes from its native habitat, Moreton Bay in Queensland, Australia. This tree is famous for its impressive buttresses.

The Moreton Bay Fig is also known as the Australian Strangler Fig because growth initially occurs on a branch or trunk of a host tree, where the germinating seed begins life as an epiphyte until the roots come into contact with the soil when it enlarges and strangles the host, eventually becoming a stand-alone tree.

It is often used as an ornamental tree in public parks and parks in warmer climates such as California, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Malta, northern New Zealand (Auckland), and Australia. Old specimens can reach unusually large sizes, and their aggressive root system makes them unsuitable for tight spaces.

FAMOUS MORETON BAY FIG TREE
Large specimens of the Moreton Bay fig tree are found in many parks and properties throughout eastern and northeastern Australia. Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney have many giant specimens planted in the mid-19th century. These trees reach 35 meters in height.

On Mount Keira, near Wollongong is the Moreton Bay Fig tree which is 58 meters high.

The widest Moreton Bay Fig in North America is the 53-meter-wide “Moreton Bay Santa Barbara”, which was planted in 1876.

The tallest Moreton Bay Fig in North America is in the San Diego Natural History Museum, which was planted in 1914. In 1996 it was 23.7 meters high and 37.4 meters wide.

One specimen of the Moreton Bay Fig in South Africa, at the Pretoria Zoo, has the second widest canopy of any single-stemmed tree in the country. The tree was planted before 1899 and is 27 meters high with a canopy width of 43.1 meters, measured in 2012.

And there are many large specimens of the Moreton Bay Fig in New Zealand that has not been studied or measured.

 

Characteristics of Moreton Bay Leaf

Ficus macrophylla Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/connorhawey

The leaves are large, dark green, leathery, and 15-30 cm long.

 

Characteristics of Moreton Bay Fruit

Ficus macrophylla Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/tchick

The fruit is small, round, about 2-2.5 cm in diameter, speckled, greenish, and turns purple when ripe. Moreton Bay trees can bear fruit any time of year.

 

Characteristics of Moreton Bay Fig Tree

Ficus macrophylla Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/derekcraig

The Moreton Bay Fig can grow to a height of 60 meters. The stems can be very large, with thick buttresses, and reach up to 2.4 meters in diameter. The bark is rough, gray-brown, and marked with stains. The habit of the Moreton Bay Fig tree is to drop aerial roots from its branches, which when they reach the ground, thicken and become additional trunks that help support the weight of the crown.

This tree is one house, each tree has functional male and female flowers. Leaves and branches secrete milky sap when cut or broken.

The Moreton Bay Fig can be used as an indoor plant with moderate to bright light, a public garden tree, and an ornamental tree in the home garden (usually planted in a pot to avoid roots damaging the surrounding building foundation).

 

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