Weekly Series
Nature Weekly
Short Notes on Nature Singapore

29 June 2014 | Ficus virens (White Fig) |

photo photo There is a lone White Fig tree (Ficus virens) in the park near my place. It was after the fruiting of the tree that I came to know of its identity. You will never see flower on a fig tree because the flowers grow inside the fruit (fig) itself and designated tiny wasps have to make their way through a small opening on the fig to pollinate the flowers. Such is the wonder of nature. Like most fruits, the figs started green. They turn white gradually and eventually to purplish colour when mature. As spots can be found on the surface of the figs, it is also called Spotted Fig. This particular tree in the park grows together with another a more commonly available fig tree called Malayan Banyan (Ficus microcarpa). While the 2 fig trees grew, theyhad strangled a Common Acacia tree (Acacia auriculiformis) in the original location.

photo photo The first fruiting this year started around 20 April. The figs turned white around 17 May, about 4 weeks to reach this stage. The white figs were still there a week later on 25 May. They were gone 2 weeks later on 8 June when I came by the tree.

photoBirds love figs, especially the white ones. It is hard to find a matured purple figs because they would have been gobbled up by the birds before they reach that stage. During this fruiting season, several green pigeons (the one in the picture is likely to be a female Treron vernans) as well as some black-coloured birds (likely to be Asian Glossy Starling, Aplonis panayensis) were seen on the tree feeding on the white figs. I was lucky to be able to capture a few of their pictures with my compact camera.

Besides bearing fruits like all trees, the White Fig tree has another interesting feature. It will shed it leaves, not just a few pieces but every single pieces on the tree periodically; technically known as abscission. The last time that I saw it shedding leaves was in November 2013. Unfortunately, I missed the recent shedding display in June. When I visited the tree yesterday, the whole tree was covered with young leaves. It must have shedded its leaves and regrown between 6 June (my last visit) and yesterday.

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