I think this may be the first reported example of a naturally occurring monoecious Ficus hybrid! World first, right here, exciting hey! Mind you I haven’t scoured every scientific paper, so I could be wrong, please let me know if there are others.
There are other possible monoecious ficus hybrids in my collection and once I’ve observed them long enough to be able see morphological signs of mixed parentage, I’ll post those examples too.
Ficus brachypoda grows in central Australia. It can be seen growing on Ulurru and at the Devil’s marbles. The foliage is often narrow, dark glossy green, tends to point upwards and is often sparse, with long internodes. There’s a fair bit of variation in the wild, leaves can vary from narrow elliptic to ovate. Most are bushy shrubs to about 4 or 5m, often branching low to the ground with multiple trunks.
It is said that Ficus brachypoda can be hairy. The hairy ‘brachypoda’ that I’ve seen don’t seem to be the same named correctly, they may be intermediate forms between brachypoda and another hairy fig population. Lot’s of plants are incorrectly labelled as brachypoda, including this image from the Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants Database which is a little platypoda like.
For many years I’ve had brachypoda growing in Sydney. About five years ago, one plant reached sexually maturity and started producing ripe fruit. The fruit is just like that of rubiginosa, brachypoda over all looks to be very closely related to rubiginosa and obliqua.
The first ripe fruit was pretty exciting, the pollinating wasps are too far away to have pollinated this plant and there’s a chance that my Ficus brachypoda are the only ones in Sydney (I don’t think there’s even one in the Sydney Botanical Gardens), so it wouldn’t have the chance to be fertilised by another brachypoda.
Every fruit since has ripened, suggesting it is closely related to one of the native Sydney figs. The seed germinated readily and I kept a hand full of seedlings to grow on. Five years on the plants are still yet to fruit but the foliage appears quite different to their brachypoda parent. The leaves and branching habit are similar to that of Ficus obliqua. The leaves are thin and curved, the petiole is curved, the internodes are short, all features that are similar to seedlings I’ve grown from obliqua.
To totally convinced me that obliqua is the male parent I would need to see one of these brachypoda seedlings grow fruit that is like that of obliqua. There’s a chance that the male parent may be a rubiginosa.