Ficus dammaropsis Diels

Scientific Name: Ficus dammaropsis Diels

Family: Moraceae

Common Name: Dinner Plate Fig, Highland Breadfruit

Etymology

Genus: Ficus – Latin for fig.
Species: dammaropsis – dammar from the Malay word for resin produced by trees and the suffix opsis meaning resembling in appearance. Probably refers to the similarity of the latex produced by the fig to the resin (dammar) produced by tropical trees.

Distribution

New Guinea highlands between 800 and 2750 metres.

Native habitat

Rainforest.

Description

A relatively small tree growing 6 to 8 m but with huge pleated leaves that may grow to 3 feet long and 2 feet wide. The fruit is similarly large with many overlapping green bracts which mature to a burgundy red colour. Like all figs the male and female flowers are held inside (invaginated) a multiple fruit known as a synconium. Stipules protecting the leaf bud are prominent and fall to the ground as the spectacular new bronze leaf emerges.

Location in the Garden

Bed 41b Tropical Horticulture Garden.

Information

The outer layers of the fruit and the young leaves are eaten in the Papua New Guinean highlands. The large leaves are used for wrapping pork meat and for lining ovens. The bark is used in making string and head coverings.

Ficus dammaropsis pollination is another example of the vital symbiotic relationship established between insects and plants. The miniscule wasp Ceratosolen abnormis enters the syconium through an opening at the upper end of the fruit. The female wasp enters to lay her eggs and then male and female wasps hatch inside the fruit. Male wasps complete their lifecycle inside the fruit. Fertilized female wasps leave the fruit through an opening created by the male wasps and carry pollen from the male flowers to another fig fruit of the same species thus pollinating the female flowers and ensuring seed is produced. Neither fig nor the wasp can reproduce without this cooperation. Without the wasp there can be no seeds for the fig and without the protection offered by the fruit of the fig tree there is no perpetuation of the species for the wasp. Seed is not produced by the plants in our garden because the wasp species required to pollinate the flowers does not occur in Australia.

Must See in the Garden

Recommended by the volunteers

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