Ficus benjamina

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Ficus benjamina
Ficus benjamina2.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Moraceae
Tribe: Ficeae
Genus: Ficus
Subgenus: Conosycea
Species: F. benjamina
Binomial name
Ficus benjamina
L.[1]
Synonyms
  • F. nitida Thunb.

Ficus benjamina, commonly known as the weeping fig, Benjamin's fig, or ficus tree and often sold in stores as just ficus, is a species of flowering plant in the family Moraceae, native to south and southeast Asia and Australia. It is the official tree of Bangkok. It is a tree reaching 30 metres (98 ft) tall in natural conditions, with gracefully drooping branchlets and glossy leaves 6–13 cm (2–5 in), oval with an acuminate tip. In its native range, its small fruit are favored by some birds, such as the Superb Fruit Dove, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Ornate Fruit Dove, orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon (Frith et al. 1976).

Cultivation[edit]

In tropical latitudes, the weeping fig makes a very large and stately tree for parks and other urban situations, such as wide roads. It is often cultivated for this purpose.

It is a very popular houseplant in temperate areas, due to its elegant growth and tolerance of poor growing conditions; it does best in bright, sunny conditions but will also tolerate considerable shade. It requires a moderate amount of watering in summer, and only enough to keep it from drying out in the winter. It does not need to be misted. The plant is sensitive to cold and should be protected from strong drafts. When grown indoors, it can grow too large for its situation, and may need drastic pruning or replacing. Ficus benjamina has been shown to effectively remove gaseous formaldehyde from indoor air.[2]

The fruit is edible, but the plant is not usually grown for its fruit. The leaves are very sensitive to small changes in light. When it is turned around or re-located it reacts by dropping many of its leaves and replacing them with new leaves adapted to the new light intensity.

Used as decorative plant in gardens in Hyderabad, India

There are numerous cultivars available (e.g. 'Danielle', 'Naomi', 'Exotica', and 'Golden King'). Some cultivars include different patterns of colouration on the leaves, ranging from light green to dark green, and various forms of white variegation.

In cultivation in the UK, this plant[3] and the variegated cultivar 'Starlight'[4] have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

The miniature cultivars, especially 'Too Little', are among the most popular plants for indoor bonsai. Full-sized, artificial versions are also commonly found in North America and Europe.

Destructive roots[edit]

The United States Forest Service states "Roots grow rapidly invading gardens, growing under and lifting sidewalks, patios, and driveways."[5] They conclude its use in tree form is much too large for residential planting, therefore in these settings, this species should only be used as a hedge or clipped screen.[5]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ficus benjamina". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  2. ^ Kwang Jin Kim, Mi Jung Kil, Jeong Seob Song, Eun Ha Yoo, Ki-Cheol Son, Stanley J. Kays (July 2008). "Efficiency of Volatile Formaldehyde Removal by Indoor Plants: Contribution of Aerial Plant Parts versus the Root Zone". Journal of The American Society for Horticultural Science 133 (4): 521–526. ISSN 0003-1062. 
  3. ^ RHS Plant Selector Ficus benjamina AGM / RHS Gardening
  4. ^ RHS Plant Selector Ficus benjamina 'Starlight' (v) AGM / RHS Gardening
  5. ^ a b USFS Fact Sheet ST-251

Bibliography[edit]

  • Frith, H.J.; Rome, F.H.J.C. & Wolfe, T.O. (1976): Food of fruit-pigeons in New Guinea. Emu 76(2): 49-58. HTML abstract