Ficus copiosa x coronata.

Copiosa x coronata seedling

Ficus copiosa x coronata.

Ficus copiosa is a small rainforest tree from North East Queensland to Cape York and islands to the north of Australia. On young plants the leaves have an almost spiny sandpaper texture and can grow to about 40cm long. Large leaves probably help the plant grow quickly to find it’s place in the canopy. The rapid growth of young plants leads to long gaps between each leaf, maybe 20cm or so, and the harsh texture of the young foliage probably helps to fend off leaf eaters.

Ficus copiosa seedling
Ficus copiosa seedling.

 

As the trees mature they tend to have tall, wide open canopys, The branches seem to grow in a ‘whorled’ fashion and the the leaves become leathery smooth, tending to be a fair bit smaller than the leaves of the fast growing seedlings.

The fruit is large, possibly the largest of all Australian figs, growing to about 5cm across. One plant along the boardwalk of Cairns swamp had yellow/green fruit, the size of a small apple, with soft, juicy flesh that reminded me of canned pear fruit. Other fruit I’ve seen have ripened purple, so maybe this fruit wasn’t it’s final colour, no matter, it was very ripe and from memory tasted pretty good.

Out of the four Ficus copious plants I have at home in Sydney, two have fruited at least once. One of these trees is planted in the garden and last season was covered in hundreds of fruit. Out of all that fruit only one ripened!

At 2cm across it didn’t compare to the fruit of tree in Cairns, it is only a small plant, and I wonder if the fruit size depends on how many of the internal flowers have been pollinated? Being the only fruit of hundreds to be pollinated (the other plant produced one ripe fruit the year before) suggests to me that copiosa is not as closely related to all the other Australian Sandpaper figs. All the endemic sandpaper figs I own have been successfully and readily pollinated out of their natural habitats.

Young Copiosa leaf
Typical young Ficus copiosa leaf.

 

Ficus copiosa probably evolved outside of Australia along with other species like Ficus melinocarpa and tinctoria. If this is the case, then copiosa may have had an extended period without gene flow with the other Australian sandpaper figs and developed some sexual barrier? It is possible that fig wasps from other Queensland sandpaper species like Ficus opposita may happily pollinate copiosa, I have no evidence for this but I’m guessing that’s the case. The wasps that pollinate the Sydney sandpaper fig coronata, may have been isolated for so long that they are no longer able to readily pollinate copiosa.

Copiosa x coronata seedling
Ficus copiosa x coronata seedling, looking very much like a coronata.

 

Sandpaper figs are quick to mature and the seedlings from this ripe copiosa fruit are now themselves setting fruit. The biggest of these seedlings at about 40cm tall, is very similar to Ficus coronata, with larger, sometimes lobed leaves, and fruit that could easily have come from a Ficus coronata.

Copiosa x coronata leaf
Leaf of Ficus copiosa x coronata.

 

coronulata x aculeata fruit
Fruit of Ficus copiosa x coronata.