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banyan tree, Indian banyan

fig, figuier

Habit Trees, evergreen, to 30 m. Trees, shrubs, or woody vines, evergreen or deciduous, commonly epiphytic or scandent as seedlings; sap milky.

aerial, often descending to ground level and forming pillar-roots Bark of trunks and older branches brown, smooth.


puberulent, glabrescent in age.


blade ovate, 10-30 × 7-20 cm, leathery, base cordate, margins entire, apex obtuse;

surfaces abaxially puberulent, adaxially glabrous;

basal veins (2-)3-4 pairs, 1/3-1/2 length of blade, reticulations regular;

lateral veins 5-6(-7) pairs.

blade: margins entire (lobed in F. carica), rarely dentate;

venation pinnate or nearly palmate.


small, borne on inner walls of fruitlike and fleshy receptacle (syconium).


staminate and pistillate on same plant.

Staminate flowers

sessile or pedicellate;

calyx of 2-6 sepals;

stamens 1-2, straight.

Pistillate flowers


ovary 1-locular;

style unbranched, lateral.


paired, sessile, orange or red, depressed-globose, 1.5-2 × 2-2.5 mm, pubescent; subtending bracts ovate, 3-7 mm, puberulous;

ostiole closed by 3 flat or nearly umbonate apical bracts 3-4 mm wide.

globose to pyriform;

achenes completely embedded in enlarged, fleshy, common receptacle and accessible by apical opening (ostiole) closed by small scales.


buds surrounded by pair of stipules.


= 13.

Ficus benghalensis


Phenology Flowering all year.
Habitat Disturbed thickets
Elevation 0-10 m (0-0 ft)
from FNA
FL; Asia (native to Pakistan and India) [Introduced in North America]
[BONAP county map]
from USDA
Tropics and subtropics; chiefly Asian
[BONAP county map]

Species ca. 750 (10 in the flora).

Worldwide, Ficus is one of the largest genera of flowering plants. Members of the genus are usually treated as a separate tribe within Moraceae because of their unique inflorescence and wasp-dependent system of pollination.

The floral characters (especially of the American species, which are quite uniform) are exceedingly difficult to use or of little value in distinguishing species. Therefore they are not used in the species descriptions. The form of the syconium, however, is often significant and taxonomically useful.

Ficus pseudocarica Miquel was cited by P. A. Munz (1974) as an occasional escape in the Santa Barbara region. It is not cited by other workers, and I have seen no specimens.

Ficus rubiginosa Desfontaines ex Ventenat cultivar `Florida', a species native to Australia, has recently been reported as naturalized in the Los Angeles area (Michael O'Brien, pers. comm.). It is a small tree with rusty-pubescent branchlets, petiole, and abaxial leaf surfaces; ovate to elliptic-oblong, leathery, 10-cm leaves; and paired axillary, globose, warty, rusty-pubescent syconia 1 cm in diameter. Vernacular names include Port Jackson fig, rusty fig, and littleleaf fig.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

1. Plants climbing, attaching by nodal adventitious roots, or trailing; leaves dimorphic.
F. pumila
1. Plants erect or essentially so; leaves monomorphic.
→ 2
2. Leaf blade palmately 3–5-lobed, pubescent.
F. carica
2. Leaf blade entire, glabrous (abaxially puberulent in F. benghalensis).
→ 3
3. Apex of leaf blade abruptly long-caudate or long-acuminate, ca. 1/2 length of blade.
F. religiosa
3. Apex of leaf blade obtuse to acute or if caudate, then much shorter in proportion to blade.
→ 4
4. Basal leaf veins (2–)3–4 pairs; fruit pubescent.
F. benghalensis
4. Basal leaf veins 1(–2) pairs; fruit glabrous.
→ 5
5. Leaf blade with more than 10 uniform lateral veins, these regularly spaced.
→ 6
5. Leaf blade with fewer than 10 lateral veins, or if more than 10, these not uniformly spaced.
→ 7
6. Leaf blade 4–6(–11) cm; stipules 0.8–1.2 cm; syconia nearly globose.
F. benjamina
6. Leaf blade 9–30 cm; stipules 3–10 cm; syconia oblong-ovoid.
F. elastica
7. Syconia on peduncles (2–)5–10(–15) mm.
→ 8
7. Syconia sessile or subsessile, rarely with peduncles to 5 mm.
→ 9
8. Petiole (0.7–)1.5–6 cm; syconia spotted; base of leaf blade usually cordate or rounded to obtuse.
F. citrifolia
8. Petiole 0.2–1 cm; syconia not spotted; base of leaf blade usually acute or cuneate to obtuse.
F. americana
9. Leaf blade 6–12(–15) cm; syconia 6–15 mm diam.
F. aurea
9. Leaf blade 3–11 cm; syconia 5–6 mm diam.
F. microcarpa
Source FNA vol. 3. FNA vol. 3.
Parent taxa Moraceae > Ficus Moraceae
Sibling taxa
F. americana, F. aurea, F. benjamina, F. carica, F. citrifolia, F. elastica, F. microcarpa, F. pumila, F. religiosa
Subordinate taxa
F. americana, F. aurea, F. benghalensis, F. benjamina, F. carica, F. citrifolia, F. elastica, F. microcarpa, F. pumila, F. religiosa
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 2: 1059. (1753) Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 2: 1059. 175: Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 482. (1754)
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