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Ficus abutilifolia

   (Family: Moraceae)
Afrikaans: Grootblaarrotsvy, Klipvy English: Large-leaved rock fig, Rock wild fig Tsonga: amphayi Tswana: momelantsweng Venda: tshikululu Zulu: inkokhokho, impayi, ubambematsheni  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Tree
Height: 5 - 15m
Special properties:
  Has Medicinal Uses
Rarity Status:
Preferred rainfall: Summer
Preferred altitude: 0 - 1000m
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Flowering time EDIT
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
Leaf shape EDIT
Bark / Stem type
Leaf size 65 - 180mm
  Leaf info EDIT
  The leaves are broadly ovate and heart-shaped to almost round and are cordate at the base, ranging in size from 75-200 x 65-180 mm. They are glabrous on both surfaces, occasionally with velvety hairs beneath, with 4-9 pairs of secondary veins, entire wavy margins and a petiole up to 120 mm long.
Fruit colour
Fruit size Length: 15mm   
  Seed info EDIT
  The fruit, which are 15-25 mm in diameter, are borne singly or in pairs in the leaf axils on terminal branchlets, and are smooth to slightly hairy. They may be sessile or on short, stout stalks up to 15 mm long and are green becoming yellow or red when ripe.
Description EDIT
Rock splitting fig.
Small to medium-sized, deciduous to semi-deciduous tree up to 15 m high.
The bark is whitish to yellowish white and smooth, powdery or somewhat flaking.
Growing EDIT
Best grown from seed. The fruits should be collected when soft and ripe, and opened to allow them to dry for a day or two. The sieved seeds or crumbled up desiccated fruits can then be distributed over the surface of the growing medium and covered lightly with this same medium, a recommended one being equal parts of washed river sand and vermiculite mix. Sow in spring. Seedling trays with a depth of 70 mm are recommended for sowing. Germination can be expected between 10 days to a month from sowing depending on temperature and the freshness of the seed-fresh seed and warm temperatures will favour more rapid germination. Place the trays in a warm, well-lit and ventilated position and keep moist, and preferably treat with a fungicide such as Captan to reduce the occurrence of fungal problems. Seedlings should be placed in a sunny position and eventually transplanted into a well-drained sandy mix rich in organic matter.

Cuttings are an alternative method to seed sowing although this species does not root as readily as some of the other fig species.
Take softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings in spring, around 200-250 mm long. Remove the lower leaves from the stem. Insert into a washed river sand mix and place in a misting unit, or if this is not available, place the tray with cuttings inside a clear plastic bag to reduce the adverse effects of transpiration. These should root within a month and be ready for transplanting in a further 3-4 weeks into a rich, well-drained medium.
Distribution EDIT
Generally encountered on rocky hillsides, rocky outcrops and along streams. The species is always found on or near rock outcrops (Burrows & Burrows 2003), and while it is often found on granite, it grows also on sandstones, basalts and ironstone. The altitudinal range is from sea level to around 1 000 m and although able to tolerate light frost, it enjoys lower altitudes and hotter conditions. It is restricted to the African continent and here it has a widespread distribution, occurring in the South African provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and the North-West up into Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia, Somalia and west to Guinea.
History EDIT
Decoctions prepared from the leaves are used in promoting fertility in humans and good crop yields, and the milky latex derived from the plant is used to remove skin warts (Ellis 2001).

In addition, bark decoctions are taken by men as a strengthening tonic (Hutchings 1996).

Though it is not much used in horticulture as yet, it shows great potential, and is known to be a good subject for bonsai.
Ecology EDIT
The ability of the roots to reach great depths of up to 60 m and that these may reach sources of underground water, has been recorded.

Two wasp species presently known to effect pollination in F. abutilifolia are Elisabethiella comptoni and Nigeriella fusciceps, recorded from Malawi and Nigeria respectively (Burrows & Burrows 2003).

The tasty fruits are enjoyed by people, and by a host of birds, fruit bats, monkeys and baboons, bushbuck, bushpig, duiker, klipspringer, nyala and warthog.
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