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Ficus (Fig)

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Ficusis a genus of about 850 species of woodytrees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes and hemiepiphytes. The fruit of most species are edible though they are usually of only local economic importance or eaten as bushfood. They are extremely important food resources for wildlife and of considerable cultural importance throughout the tropics, both as objects of worship and for their many practical uses.

As a group figs are relatively easy to recognise. Many have aerial roots and a distinctive shape or habit, and their fruits distinguish them from other plants. The fig fruit is an enclosed inflorescence, sometimes referred to as asyconium, an urn-like structure lined on the inside with the fig’s tiny flowers. The unique fig pollination system, involving tiny, highly specific wasps which pollinate and lay their eggs, has been a constant source of inspiration and wonder to biologists. Finally, there are three vegetative traits that together are unique to figs. All figs possess a white to yellowish latex, some in copious quantities; the twig has paired stipulesor a circular stipule scar if the stipules have fallen off; and the lateral veins at the base of the leaf are steep, forming a tighter angle with the midrib than the other lateral veins, a feature referred to as “tri-veined”.

Figs are keystone species in many rainforest ecosystems. Their fruit are a key resource for some frugivores including flying foxes. Ficus is by far the largest genus in the Moraceae, and is one of the largest genera of flowering plants currently described.

Ficus are loved & needed by:

Grey-headed Flying Fox

The Grey-headed Flying-Fox is one of the largest bats in the world with a weight of up to 1kg and a head-body length of up to 29cm. It is the only Australian flying-fox that has a collar of orange/brown fully encircling its neck. Thick leg fur extends to the ankle and its head is covered by light grey fur. The belly fur is grey, often with flecks of white and ginger. Winter fur is darker than summer fur with a pronounced moult occurring in June. READ MORE

​Southern Cassowary

Southern Cassowaries are solitary nesters with a clutch-size of usually three or four eggs, sometimes five. A site is chosen by the first of a number of females, which may mate with the attendant male. The male incubates and raises the chicks, nesting on the ground in rainforests, usually near the base of a large tree or stump. Eggs are laid on the bare ground for about 50 days of incubation and the adult gathers twigs and vegetation around itself. READ MORE

Orange-bellied Parrot

The Orange-bellied Parrot breeds only in coastal south-west Tasmania and spends the winter in coastal Victoria and South Australia. In Tasmania it occurs in buttongrass moorland interspersed with patches of forest or tea tree scrub. The Orange-bellied Parrot feeds almost exclusively on seeds and fruits, mainly of sedges, and salt-tolerant coastal and salt marsh plants. READ MORE