In my collection of sandpaper crosses are a group of Ficus leptoclada x Ficus coronata. I’ve had both leptoclada and coronata for many years and watched them set fruit, not ever thinking about trying to grow them. That was until I started noticing plump ripe fruit forming on one of my leptoclada!
Leptoclada naturally occurs around Atherton in Queensland, has almost glossy leaves, smooth leaf margins and hairless fruit. It’s a tall narrow tree, that can be seen growing on the side of some of the roads that wind their way through the rainforests of Atherton. When in fruit they’re hard to miss, with thousands of small colourful fruit covering their smooth brown trunks.
The developing fruit can be yellow, orange, red and finally ripening to purple. As with Ficus fraseri, I’ve never seen a fleshy ripe fruit in the wild, maybe I’ve been there too early to see the ripe fruit or the ripe fruit may be getting eaten before I’ve had a chance to see them. I think like fraseri and coronata fleshy ripe fruit may be a rare thing on this species, the fruit seems to be dry and unfertilised, however from experience I know this doesn’t mean the fruit is sterile. I have some Ficus fraseri seedlings that were grown from what seemed to be ‘male’ (full of pollen) unripe fruit.
A leptoclada I have in the ground, grows thousands of fruit every year and has produced at least a hand full of fleshy fruit. These fruit in turn have produced seedlings, so many that I had to cull most of them keeping about five plants to observe. In theory, the parent leptoclada should not produce ripe fruit. It’s pollinating wasp lives thousands of kilometres away in Queensland. This opens up two options, 1 the wasp has made it to Sydney or 2 a local Sydney wasp has pollinated the fruit.
Once the seedlings were about 12 months old it become obvious that the male pollen donor was a coronata. The foliage of the seedlings showed physical traits of both species, and all the seedlings had variations of the two parent species characteristics. The foliage reminds me of a cherry tree. None of these hybrid plants have produced fruit yet, but from other coronata crosses, my guess is that the fruit will look like that of coronata.