Characteristics of Wonderboom Tree (Ficus salicifolia) in the Wild

Ficus salicifolia
The Wonderboom (Ficus salicifolia) is a species of fig native to the central plains of KwaZulu-Natal north to tropical East Africa. This tree is often found growing on rocky outcrops, rocky hillsides, and along cliffs on the banks of streams.

The Wonderboom stretches from the Saharo in Tassili n’Ajjer, the Hoggar, Aïr, and Tibesti mountains, the Kerkour Nourene massif, and on Mount Elba in the Red Sea Hills. It is also widely distributed in the eastern Afrotropics, from southern Arabia and Socotra to the central plains of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

Ficus salicifolia is named after the Wonderboom forest in Pretoria.

The Wonderboom is a remarkable specimen for its size and structure, and its drooping branches continue to take root and form new trees. The branches reach about 23 meters, and the trunk can reach a thickness of up to 5 meters.

CONFUSED WITH OTHER FICUS

Ficus salicifolia may be confused with Ficus ingens they are similar and grow in the same habitat. Ficus ingens have slightly larger figs, white to purple, and fresh, dark red foliage. Figs Ficus salicifolia is sometimes considered a race Ficus cordata, namely Ficus c. subsp. salicifolia, although this species has yellowish sessile figs and more western distribution.

 

Characteristics of Wonderboom Leaf

Ficus salicifolia Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/keanumrc

Leaves elliptic-oblong, leathery, about 7-10 cm long, petiole long, and often seen folded along the midrib. The leaf sides are almost parallel and the leaf ribs are visible on the lamina. The leaves are brittle and have a characteristic odor when injured.

WARNING: Wonderboom leaves are poisonous and cause a nervous breakdown or even livestock death.

 

Characteristics of Wonderboom Fruit

Ficus salicifolia Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/keanumrc

Figs are small and smooth, short-stemmed, and about 4-6 mm in diameter. They gather along branches in leaf axils and change from white to yellowish-red and mottled as they ripen.

 

Characteristics of Wonderboom Tree

Ficus salicifolia Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/karel_koster

Wonderboom can grow to a height of 7-10 meters, and a spreading crown. These are rarely found as erect trees, they usually creep on rocks or form large shrubs.

 

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