Ficus obliqua

Ficus obliqua

name = Queensland small-leaved Fig

image_caption = cultivated tree,
Glebe, New South Wales
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Urticales
familia = Moraceae
genus = "Ficus"
species = ""'F. obliqua
binomial = "Ficus obliqua"
binomial_authority = G.Forst.
synonyms = "Ficus obliqua" var. "obliqua" G.Forst. "Ficus backhousei" (Miq.) Miq. "Ficus eugenioides" (Miq.) F.Muell. ex Miq. "Ficus tryonii" F.M.Bailey "Ficus virginea" Banks & Sol. ex Hiern "Urostigma backhousei" Miq. "Urostigma eugenioides" Miq. "Urostigma obliquum" (G.Forst.) Miq.APNI | name = Ficus obliqua | id = 37957 Retrieved on 2008-07-12]

"Ficus obliqua", commonly known as the Queensland small-leaved Fig, is a species of fig tree native to Australia. It was previously known as "Ficus eugenioides". It can grow to 35 m (100 ft) high and wide. It is found along the east coast from Queensland, through New South Wales in rainforest, savanna woodland, sclerophyll forest and gallery forest. "F. obliqua" is pollinated by two species of fig wasp—"Pleistodontes greenwoodi" and "P. xanthocephalus". It is used as a shade tree in parks and public spaces, and is well-suited for use in bonsai.


Commonly known as the Queensland small-leaved Fig, "Ficus obliqua" was described by German naturalist Georg Forster in 1786. It was alternately known as "F. eugenioides" for many years, however Forster's name is older and thus has precendence.

The species is currently regarded as monotypic. Three varieties of "Ficus obliqua" were recognised until 2001—"F. obliqua" var. "petiolaris", "F. obliqua" var. "obliqua", and "F. obliqua" var. "puberula" from Western Australia. However, a revision of the group led to the conclusion that "F. obliqua" var. "petiolaris" actually belonged in the species "F. rubiginosa".cite journal | quotes = no | last = Cook | first = James M. | coauthors = Jean-Yves Rasplus | year = 2003 | title = Mutualists with attitude: coevolving fig wasps and figs | journal = Trends in Ecology & Evolution | volume = 18 | issue = 5 | pages = 241–48 | doi = 10.1016/S0169-5347(03)00062-4 | url = ] "F. obliqua" var. "puberula" has been reclassified as "Ficus brachypoda".

With over 750 species, "Ficus" is one of the largest angiosperm genera.cite journal | quotes = no | last = Frodin | first = David G. | year = 2004 | month = | title = History and concepts of big plant genera | journal = Taxon | volume = 53 | issue = 3 | pages = 753–76 | url =| doi = 10.2307/4135449 ] Based on morphology, English botanist E. J. H. Corner divided the genus into four subgenera;cite journal | quotes = no | last = Dixon | first = Dale J. | year = 2003 | title = A taxonomic revision of the Australian "Ficus" species in the section "Malvanthera" ("Ficus" subg. "Urostigma": Moraceae) | journal = Telopea | volume = 10 | issue = 1 | pages = 125–53 | url = ] later expanded to six.cite journal | quotes = no | last = Rønsted | first = N. | coauthors = Weiblen, G. D.; Clement, W. L.; Zerega, N. J. C.; Savolainen, V. | year = 2008 | month = | title = Reconstructing the phylogeny of figs (Ficus, Moraceae) to reveal the history of the fig pollination mutualism | journal = Symbiosis | volume = 45 | issue = 1–3 | pages = 45–56 | url = ] In this classification, "Ficus obliqua" was placed in subseries "Malvanthereae", series "Malvanthereae", section "Malvanthera" of the subgenus "Urostigma".cite journal | quotes = no | last = Rønsted | first = Nina | coauthors = George D. Weiblen, V. Savolainen, James M. Cook | year = 2008 | title = Phylogeny, biogeography, and ecology of "Ficus" section "Malvanthera" (Moraceae) | journal = Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution | volume = 48 | issue = 1 | pages = 12–22 | doi = 10.1016/j.ympev.2008.04.005 | url = ] In his reclassification of the Australian "Malvanthera", Australian botanist Dale J. Dixon altered the delimitations of the series within the section, but left this species in series Malvanthereae.


"Ficus obliqua" is a tree which may reach 15–35 m (50–100 ft) in height and similar width. It has smooth grey bark and a buttressed trunk. The glossy green leaves are elliptic to oblong in shape and measure 5–8 cm (2–3 in) long by 2–3.5 cm (0.8–1.4 in) wide on 1–2 cm (0.4–0.8 in) petioles.cite book |author=Eliot RW, Jones DL, Blake T |title=Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants Suitable for Cultivation: Volume 4 (Eu-Go)|year=1986|pages=p. 287–88 |publisher=Lothian Press |location=Port Melbourne |isbn=0-85091-589-9] Growing in pairs, the round yellow fruit turns orange with maturity April-July and reaches a diameter of 8 mm (0.3 in).cite book |author = Fairley A, Moore P |title=Native Plants of the Sydney District:An Identification Guide |year=2000 |edition= 2nd ed.|publisher=Kangaroo Press |pages=p. 62|location=Kenthurst, NSW |isbn=0-7318-1031-7]

It can be distinguished from "Ficus rubiginosa" by its smaller fruit on shorter stalks, and its glabrous (hairless) leaves.


Figs have an obligate mutualism with fig wasps, (Agaonidae); figs are only pollinated by fig wasps, and fig wasps can only reproduce in fig flowers. Generally, each fig species depends on a single species of wasp for pollination. The wasps are similarly dependent on their fig species in order to reproduce. "F. obliqua" is pollinated by two species of fig wasp—"Pleistodontes greenwoodi" and "P. xanthocephalus".cite journal | quotes = no | last = Lopez-Vaamonde | first = Carlos | coauthors = Dale J. Dixon, James M. Cook, Jean-Yves Rasplus | year = 2002 | title = Revision of the Australian species of "Pleistodontes" (Hymenoptera: Agaonidae) fig-pollinating wasps and their host-plant associations | journal = Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society | volume = 136 | issue = 4 | pages = 637–83 | doi = 10.1046/j.1096-3642.2002.00040.x | url = ] The assumption that fig species are usually pollinated by just one species of fig wasp has been challenged by the discovery of cryptic species complexes among what was previous thought to be single species of fig wasps.cite journal | quotes = no | last = Molbo | first = Drude | coauthors = Carlos A. Machado, Jan G. Sevenster, Laurent Keller, Edward Allen Herre | year = 2003 | title = Cryptic species of fig-pollinating wasps: Implications for the evolution of the fig–wasp mutualism, sex allocation, and precision of adaptation | journal = Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA | volume = 100 | issue = 10 | pages = 5867–72 | doi = 10.1073/pnas.0930903100 ]

Distribution and habitat

"Ficus obliqua" occurs from Mount Dromedary in southern New South Wales northwards along the coast and Great Dividing Range into the Cape York Peninsula in north Queensland and New Guinea and offshore islands. It is a rainforest tree. It had been thought to occur in Western Australia, but these collections have been now referred to "Ficus brachypoda".


Rainbow Lorikeets and other birds consume the fruit and disperse the seeds of "Ficus obliqua". The Double-eyed Fig-parrot also eats the fruit, steadily depositing fruity detritus on the ground.cite book| author=Forshaw, Joseph M. and Cooper, William T. |year=1978| title=Parrots of the World| edition=2nd|publisher=Landsdowne Editions| location=Melbourne| isbn=0-7018-0690-7|pages=p. 162]

Leaves of "F. obliqua" serve as a food source for the larvae of the butterfly species the Common Crow ("Euploea core"),cite web|url=|title= "Euploea core"|accessdate= 2008-07-12|last= Robinson|first= Gaden S.|coauthors= Phillip R. Ackery, Ian J. Kitching, George W. Beccaloni, Luis M. Hernández|accessdate= 2008-07-12|last= Robinson|first= Gaden S.|coauthors= Phillip R. Ackery, Ian J. Kitching, George W. Beccaloni, Luis M. Hernández|work= HOSTS - a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants|publisher= Natural History Museum] the No-brand Crow ("Euploea alcathoe"), [cite book |title=The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia |last=Braby |first=Michael F.|year=2005 |publisher=CSIRO Publishing |location=Collingwood, Victoria |isbn=0-643-09027-4 |pages=p. 194] and the geometer moth ("Scopula epigypsa").cite web|url=|title= "Scopula epigypsa"|accessdate= 2008-07-12|last= Robinson|first= Gaden S.|coauthors= Phillip R. Ackery, Ian J. Kitching, George W. Beccaloni, Luis M. Hernández|work= HOSTS - a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants|publisher= Natural History Museum]


"Ficus obliqua" is an elegant shade tree for parks or fields, and is adaptable to differing soils. Its timber is too soft for use in woodworking. Although it is much less used in bonsai than "F. rubiginosa", [cite book |title=Rainforest to Bonsai |last=Webber |first=Len |year=1991 |publisher=Simon and Schuster |location=East Roseville, NSW |isbn=0-7318-0237-3 |pages=p. 109] it is well-suited for use in the medium; its small leaves and trunk's propensity to thicken, [cite book |title=Bonsai with Australian native Plants |author=Koreshoff, Dorothy and Vita |year=1984 |publisher=Boolarong Publications |location=Brisbane |isbn=0-908175-663 |pages=p. 52] its attributes optimal for a tree 10-80 cm (4-32 in) in height. It is seen in bonsai nurseries mainly in the Brisbane area, where it is a locally common species, and is very highly regarded by at least one proponent, Bradley Barlow.cite journal | last = Barlow| first = Bradley | year = 2006 | title = Growing the Queensland Small leaf Fig as Bonsai in South-east Queensland | journal = ASGAP Australian Plants As Bonsai Study Group Newsletter | issue = 10 | pages = 5-8|quote=The Queensland Small-leaf Fig...should be the first choice for more serious "Ficus" bonsai enthusiasts] Barlow's specimen from Brisbane won a prize at the Bonsai Clubs International competition in 2006.cite journal | last = Hnatiuk | first = Roger | year = 2006 | title = International Honours to Australians with Aussie Species as Bonsai | journal = ASGAP Australian Plants As Bonsai Study Group Newsletter | issue = 11 | pages = 1] It is also suited for use as an indoor plant in low, medium or brightly-lit indoor spaces. [cite book |title=Australian Native Plants for Indoors |last=Ratcliffe |first=David & Patricia|year=1987 |publisher=Little Hills Press |location=Crows Nest, NSW |isbn=0-949773-49-2 |pages= p. 90] The fruit is edible and palatable. [cite journal |last=Lindsay |first=Lenore|year=1992 |month=March |title=Fancy a feast? Try a fig. |journal=Australian Plants |volume=16 |issue=130 |pages=251-52]


External links

*APNI | name = Ficus obliqua | id = 37957

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