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Ficus sycomorus sycomorus Linnaeus 1753


(Life; Embryophyta (plants); Angiospermae (flowering plants); Eudicotyledons; Order: Rosales; Family: Moraceae; Genus: Ficus; Subgenus: Sycomorus; Section: Sycomorus)

Ficus sycomorus Ficus sycomorus
Ficus sycomorus Ficus sycomorus
Madagascar. Photographs © Jean-Yves Rasplus (INRA).
Ficus_sycomorus Ficus_sycomorus
Tanzania. Photographs © Jean-Yves Rasplus (INRA).
Ficus_sycomorus Ficus sycomorus


Mkomazi Game Reserve, Tanzania. Photographs © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).
Blouberg Nature Reserve South Africa. Photographs © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).
Ngwenya, South Africa. Photographs © Alan Manson (Pietermaritzburg). https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/34494055


Ficus sycomorus Distribution Ficus sycomorus Madagascan Distribution

From South Africa to Senegal and the Arabian Peninsula and Madagascar. Planted for cultivation in Egypt, Israel and Syria.



Ceratosolen arabicus Mayr


Ceratosolen galili Wiebes is a cuckoo.


Non-pollinating fig wasps:

Apocrypta longitarsus Mayr, 1906


Sycophaga gigas (Mayr, 1906)


Sycophaga gracilis (Wiebes,1967)


Sycophaga sycomori (Linnaeus,1758)


Sycophaga valentinae Grandi,1952


Sycophaga sycomori (Wiebes, 1967)


Sycoscapteridea bambeyi (Risbec, 1951)


Ficomila gambiensis (Risbec, 1955)


Syceurytoma ficus Bouček, 1981 


Sycophila naso Bouček, 1981


In woodland, near streams.


Birds, bats and monkeys feed on the ripe figs facilitating seed dispersal.


Green pigeon in Ficus sycomorus Duncan Butchart

African Green Pigeon feeding on figs of Ficus sycomorus in South Africa (Photograph © Duncan Butchart).


The larval stages of a variety of insects feed on the leaves or figs of Ficus sycomorus including caterpillars of butterflies and moths, some of which have developed remarkable strategies to overcome the sticky latex contained in the leaves. Other insect larvae bore into the branches feeding on the wood or suck sap from leaves or figs.

Latex sabotage by Asota speciosa

Asota speciosa (latex sabotage by the Speciose Tiger moth caterpillar)

Myrina dermaptera (Lesser fig-tree bue, Scarce fig-tree blue)

Myrina dermaptera (Lesser fig-tree blue, Scarce fig-tree blue)

Myrina silenus (Common fig-tree blue)

Myrina silenus (Common fig-tree blue)


Beetle larvae of the Fig tree borer beetle Phyrneta spinator (Coleoptera) bore into the branches and trunks often targeting water stressed, damaged or older trees.

Leaf Hopper bugs Hilda patruelis (Hemiptera) suck the sap  from figs and are tended for honeydew by pugnaceous ants Anoplolepis custodiens or Pheidole megacephala. By patrolling figs with bugs the ants reduce the impact of parasitoid fig wasps (which oviposit through the fig wall) on pollinator larvae and hence increase the reproductive fitness of the tree.


(after C.C. Berg in Berg & Wiebes,1992):   

Biological form

Tree up to 15 m tall, terrestrial


shape & colour

elliptic to subcordiform, chartaceous, apex rounded, base cordate to rounded, both surfaces scabrous to puberulous



14x10 cm


lateral veins

4-7 pairs, basal pair branched, reaching the margin at or below the middle of the lamina



0.5-3 cm long, puberulous


0.5-1 cm long, (sub)puberulous, caducous



on 20 cm long branchlets on the branches (ssp. sycomorus) or in the leaf axils (ssp. gnaphalocarpa)



globose to subpyriform, Æ 5 cm (fresh), (sub)puberulous



0.3-0.6 cm long


basal bracts

2.5-3 mm long


Berg, C.C. 1986. The Ficus species (Moraceae) of Madagascar and the Comore Islands. Bulletin du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle d’Histoire Naturelle. Paris (4), 8: 17-55.

Berg, C.C. 1988. New taxa and combinations in Ficus (Moraceae) in Africa. Kew Bulletin 43: 77- 97.

Berg, C.C. 1989. Moraceae. In: R.M. Polhill (ed.) Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam.

Berg, C.C. 1990. Distribution of African taxa of Ficus (Moraccae). [Proc. 12th AETFAT]. Mitt. inst. Allg. Bot. Hamburg 23: 401-405.

Berg, C.C. 1990. Annotated check-list of the Ficus species of the African floristic region, with special reference and a key to the taxa of southern Africa. Kirkia, 13: 253-291.

Berg, C.C. 1991. Moraceae. In: E. Launert & G.Y. Pope (eds) Flora Zambesiaca 9, 6. Natural History Museum, London.

Berg, C.C. & Hijman, M.E.E. 1989. Chapter 11. Ficus. Flora of Tropical East Africa (ed. R.M. Polhill). 43-86. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam.

Berg, C.C., Hijman, M.E.E. & Weerdenburg, J.C.A. 1984. Moracées (incl. Cécropiacées). Flore du Gabon 26: 1276.

Berg, C.C., Hijman, M.E.E. & Weerdenburg, J.C.A. 1985. Moracées (incl. Cécropiacées). Flore du Cameroun 28: 1298.

Berg, C.C. & Wiebes, J.T. 1992. African fig trees and fig wasps. Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen. Amsterdam, 1-298 pp.

Burrows, J. & Burrows, S. 2003. Figs of southern & south-central Africa. Umdaus Press, Hatfield. 379 pp.


Photographs and distribution maps © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa) or © Jean-Yves Rasplus (INRA). Insect images © Hamish Robertson (Iziko Museums of South Africa). Butterfly images © Steve Woodhall.

Ficus sycomorus gnaphalocarpa (Miq.) C.C. Berg

Web authors Simon van Noort (Iziko South African Museum)

and Jean-Yves Rasplus (INRA, France)


Citation: van Noort, S. & Rasplus, JY. 2024. Figweb: figs and fig wasps of the world. URL: www.figweb.org(Accessed on <day-month-year>).

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