Ficus pantoniana

Ficus pantonia juvenille foliage1

The only Australian native climbing fig, Ficus pantoniana grows in North East Queensland. It can be seen growing on nearly every tree in parts of Cairns Swamp (opposite the Botanical Gardens). It’s also common through the Daintree Rainforest, where it’s thin stems can be seen twisting their way along the ground and up the trunks of any trees near by.

Young shoots have thin pink/red/purple leaves. As the plant makes its way into the sunlight, the foliage and stems will thicken and the plant will finally be able to produce fruit.

 

Ficus pantoniana juvenille foliage
Ficus pantoniana juvenille foliage

 

Plants can grow to over 30m tall in an effort to make the open sky. Once above the canopy the stems thicken and spread out to form a network of self supporting branches.

 

Ficus pantoniana adult foliage
Ficus pantoniana adult foliage

 

Two of my ten year old pantoniana plants fruited for the first time this year. The fruit, as expected, is unfertilised (the wasps are too far away), and is bigger than any fruit I have seen in the wild. The bigger size might be an attempt to attract pollinators?

 

Ficus pantoniana fruiting shoot
Fruiting shoot.

 

Ficus pantoniana unripe fruit 2
Note the large open ostiole.

 

Ficus pantoniana unripe fruit
Unpollinated fruit, grown in Sydney.