Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Java fig, weeping fig, Chinese banyan,Benjamin fig or Ficus tree.

+ Tree Species

Ficus benjamina

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Ficus benjamina is native to Asia and Australia. It is the official tree of Bangkok. The species is also naturalized in the West Indies and in the States of Florida and Arizona in the United States. In its native range, its small fruit are favored by some birds, such as the superb fruit dove, wompoo fruit dove, pink spotted fruit dove, ornate fruit dove, orange bellied fruit dove, torresian imperial pigeon, purple tailed imperial pigeon (Frith et al. 1976).F. benjamina will thrive in fertile, moist soils in full sun (Whistler, 2000) but it can tolerate drought and a wide range of soil types including clay, loam, and sand, as well as well-drained, with pH levels ranging from acidic to alkaline (Gilman and Waston, 2007). In Uganda,it is grown for shade and as an ornamental. It is often grown in pots as an indoor plant. It needs a humid atmosphere to grow well.Indoors, it is a slender-trunked tree-let with weeping branches.Outdoors, it can become a large strangling fig tree with weeping branches and foliage and multiple trunks when mature. In Kampala, Java fig can be found within Makerere university, at Acacia avenue, Bombo Road among other places.

+ Description

Ficus benjamina is a tree reaching 30 meters (98 ft.) tall in natural conditions, with gracefully drooping branchlets and glossy leaves 6 13 cm (2 5 in), oval with an acuminate tip. The leaves are very sensitive to small changes in light. When it is turned around or re-located it reacts by dropping many of its leaves and replacing them with new leaves adapted to the new light intensity.The bole can be 30 - 60cm in diameter.

BARK: grey-white-green. The trunk is somewhat pale and smooth and can grow to 3m in girth on mature, outdoor trees. 

LEAVES: Small and thin, lime green when young, later leathery shiny dark green, narrow oval, 8-10 cm long with a pointed "drip tip", base rounded. The abaxial surface is glossy and lighter green, while the adaxial surface is duller. They are about 4.5 to 6cm long, and about 3.5cm wide. They droop from the branches, hence the common name Weeping Fig. 

FLOWERS: Cream / Off-White

FRUIT: figs besides leaves, very many, often in pairs, each about 1 cm across, turning from orange to dark red, attract birds.The figs of this species are small (about 3cm in diameter), globular, red or reddish orange in color and are typically borne in pairs on the leaf axils.

+ Uses

Ornamental (avenue tree), used for landscaping in urban areas and housing estates and shade-providing tree.

They are popular for indoor bonsai.

Bark was once used to make rope while the fruit are eaten by birds and small mammals.

Medicine:bark of the root, root, and the leaves.

The wood is of low quality, but is used for temporary constructions, moldings, interior work, cladding, drawers, small domestic articles, fruit crates.

The inner bark is a source of fiber.

The wood is used for fuel

+ Propagation

Marcotting or by stem cuttings.

+ Management

Fast growing, pollarding. It is a common indoor tree, as well as along some roads and in older gardens and private compounds. When grown indoors, it can grow too large for its situation, and may need drastic pruning or replacing. It has long been an extremely popular indoor houseplant because of its attractive shape and tolerance for a variety of growing conditions, usually growing 60 - 300cm tall in the pots. The tree responds well to trimming and can be grown as a hedge. The plant can be grown as a pioneer species in reforestation projects.

+ Remarks

Best planted as individual trees rather than as a stand. The roots may damage foundations and sewerage systems if planted too close to buildings. F. benjamina is cultivated in public areas as a hedge or roadside plant, although it may damage pavements and roads with its strong and extensive root system. In tropical latitudes, the weeping fig makes a very large and stately tree for parks and other urban situations, such as wide roads. It is often cultivated for this purpose.Ficusbenjamina has been shown to effectively remove gaseous formaldehyde from indoor air

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