Characteristics of Ara Jejawi Tree (Ficus retusa) in the Wild

Ficus retusa
Ara jejawi or Broadleaf strangler banyan (Ficus retusa) is an evergreen tree species in the genus Moraceae, which is native to the Malay Archipelago and the floristic regions of Malaysia and Indonesia.

The ara jejawi tree has been widely confused with the Chinese Banyan (Ficus microcarpa), but these are two very different species. The difference can be seen clearly in the length of the leaves.

Ficus retusa has leaves 15-20 cm long, and Ficus microcarpa less than 10 cm (very rarely those longer than 12 cm). In addition, the leaves of Ficus retusa are very thick and stiff, and also have blunt leaf tips.

To this day, there are still many people who are wrong and think that Ficus retusa is Ficus Ginseng (Ficus microcarpa var.). Many plant nurseries, bonsai enthusiasts, and online plant discussion forums use the name Ficus retusa to refer to other types of Ficus that are not real Ficus retusa.

If you are curious about the differences, you can read my article entitled Difference between Ficus retusa and Ficus microcarpa.

Apart from its Latin name Ficus retusa, this tree also has other synonymous botanical names. The following include:

  • Ficus truncata
  • Perula retusa
  • Urostigma littorale
  • Urostigma ovoideum
  • Urostigma pisiferum
  • Urostigma retusum
  • Urostigma truncatum

In foreign countries, it is known as Broadleaf strangler banyan or Retuse Fig and includes a hemiepiphyte tree whose seeds can germinate on other tree trunks and then release wind roots that extend to touch the ground and absorb nutrients from their wind roots that have touched the ground.

Apart from being able to grow on other trees, it can also grow in various places such as between walls, roofs of buildings, and corners of roads.

In Indonesia, the Ficus retusa tree is known by many names and Ara Jejawi or Beringin Kalimantan is its popular name. There are no local nurseries yet that cultivate Ficus retusa commercially, given its rare tree in the wild.


Characteristics of Ara Jejawi Leaf

Ficus retusa Leaf
Source: Clinic Indonesia/Sogellizer

The leaves are thick, glossy green above and light green to silver below, about 5-7 cm wide and 10-20 cm long.

The leaves are easy to spot because of their semicircular tips.


Characteristics of Ara Jejawi Fruit

Ficus retusa Fruit
Source: Clinic Indonesia/Sogellizer

As in other species of the Ficus genus, the fruit is berry-shaped and appears at the tips of twigs. Initially green, then turns orange and brown when ripe.


Characteristics of Ara Jejawi Tree

Ficus retusa Tree
Source: Clinic Indonesia/Sogellizer

The jejawi fig tree can grow in the form of a shrub or a large tree with a wide and rounded crown. In the wild, the jejawi fig tree can reach a height of 15-20 meters and a main trunk diameter of up to 2 meters.

The bark varies depending on where it grows, generally brownish gray to light cream, smooth, and secretes a milky white sap when injured.

In Indonesia the jejawi fig tree has no special use. This tree is not recommended to be planted directly in the ground in the yard of the house, next to the building, or on the side of the road because it grows very quickly and its roots can destroy anything in the vicinity.


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