Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ficus sur (Broom cluster fig)

Ficus sur is an imposing, fast growing semi-deciduous to evergreen tree that can reach a height of 20m, and develops a wide, spreading crown, making it a superlative shade tree. Spectacular throughout the year, the Broom cluster fig has been prized by man and beast alike for countless ages. Aside from providing deep, cool shade in summer, parts of these conspicuous trees are used by local peoples for medicine, whereas the fruits are not only enjoyed by people, but also attract a wide array of birds and insects as well as a diversity of other wild life.
Botanical Name
Ficus sur
Common Name
Broom cluster fig
RSA National Tree No’
The majestic Broom cluster fig with its magnificent, dense, spreading crown is unsurpassed as a truly dramatic shade tree in large gardens, estates, golf courses or parks. These superb trees should be planted where they have the space to fully develop so that their beauty can be appreciated for many years. As the root system is extremely strong, care should be taken to plant them at some distance away from buildings, paved areas and drain pipes. As they are fast growing, these splendid giants will quickly impart an ambiance of maturity to the landscape.
Evergreen – semi deciduous
Growth Habit
The beautiful Broom cluster fig grows wild along river banks and in riverine forest but can also be found in drier, temperate woodland areas.
The bark of the Ficus sur tends to be smooth and ranges in colour from whitish to dark grey. Any damaged parts will secrete large amounts of milky latex.
The smooth, broadly oval leaves have pointed tips and may grow up to 15cm in length and 10cm in width. The margins are occasionally smooth but usually wavy or scalloped. New leaf growth is tinged with red.
The masses of tiny male and female flowers are borne inside the fleshy receptacle or ‘fig’.
From September to March the round, 2-3cm figs appear in large, leafless clusters along the trunk and main branches as well as occasionally on the roots. The fruits turn orange red to red when ripe.
The small seeds are dark brown to black.
Growing regions
Ficus sur is widely distributed in woodland and forests from North Africa right down to the Western Cape.
Growing conditions
The Broom cluster fig prefers a moderate, frost free climate and average quantities of water. These trees enjoy a sunny position, but being forest subjects will also perform well in semi shaded areas.
Best season
All year
In general Ficus sur performs best in a warm position with adequate water. These trees will withstand strong winds.
The quickest and easiest method of propagation is by cuttings or truncheons taken in spring. Treat the ends with a rooting compound and plant in damp sand. Ensure that sand is kept moist until roots have formed. Transplant into bags or directly into the ground.
Growth rate
Indigenous peoples have long believed that the Broom cluster fig has magical powers and have used parts of the tree for various ceremonies and rituals. The soft white wood has been used to make mortars and drums as well as brake blocks and boards for the ox wagons of old while the inner bark was used to make rope. The milky latex has been used to treat lung and throat ailments as well as for treating boils.
ficus sur fruitFicus sur foliageFicus sur bark
                  F. sur Fruit                         F. sur Foliage                      F. sur Bark

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