Ripe fruit on exotic fig!

As ‘everyone’ knows, figs are apparently pollinated by a single species of wasp. Therefore a fig species that is moved to new country without its pollinator wasp, shouldn’t form ripe fruit. Well here’s yet another example of an exotic fig, growing in Australia and producing ripe fruit without access to its pollinator.


The unripe fruit with its large green spots looks totally different to microcarpa fruit.


The plant at hand is a bit of a botanic oddity. Sometimes called Ficus microcarpa var crassifolia and sold under the common names of ‘Green Island’, ‘Green Mound’, ‘Wax Fig’  etc. Small growing to maybe 1.5m – maybe becoming a tree over time, with a distinctly thick round leaf . This plant is widely grown as a shrub or hedge in tropical areas, yet the plant seems to be unrecognised botanically? Berg and Corner in ‘Flora Malesiana’ have synonymised the name of microcarpa var crassifolia with the species and without researching too hard, I haven’t been able to find a true botanically reference to this plant. This may be because the plant has been developed in cultivation and botanists only really care about naturally occurring populations of plants?

It would be interesting to know the origin of this plant. Possibly described  for the first time in ‘Ficus microcarpa var. crassifolia W.C. Shieh in Quart. J. Taiwan Mus. 16: t. 5. 1963’ and mentioned again in ‘Ficus microcarpa var. crassifolia (W.C. Shieh) J.C. Liao in Ser. Publ. Forest. Exp. Forest NTU 62: 79. 1974’. But hey the name of the plant isn’t really the point here and I’ll look into that another day! I’m not even sure this plant is a variety of microcarpa, it looks way too different for my liking, but again, that’s not the focus here.


Green Island fig ripe fruit
Green Island fig ripe fruit


Green Island fig ripe fruit
Green Island fig ripe fruit – I forgot to get photo’s of the fruit on the plant, so I could be making this up!


I’ve had these plants in my collection for over a decade. Each year they happily grow masses of fruit and every year that fruit goes unpollinated. Until this year! One lonely fruit turned dark purple and soften up. It’s now Autumn in Australia, the days are still warm and the nights are rapidly cooling so I’m hoping it will be warm enough to  germinate the seed. It will be interesting to see what the offspring look like. Hopefully they’ll give some clues to which species is the father.


Ficus microcarpa, cv Hilli, Green Island
Left, There large rounded leaf of a wild Ficus microcarpa, middle the now unrecognised plant previously refered to as var Hillii probably best called cv Hillii?, and right ‘Green Island’ fig. Note all three plants were in fruit when this was written.


Green Island fig
Same order as the above photo with unripe fruit.