Ficus benjamina L.

                                                                      =F. nitida Thunb.

                                                                          Moraceae (Mulberry Family)



Weeping Chinese Banyan

                                       October Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Very large, evergreen, broad-headed tree to 10 m. high, with drooping branches, glabrous, the young trees with a light somewhat poplar-like aspect; lvs. small 5-13 cm. long, shining and moderately thick, oval to ovate-elliptic and ovate-lanceolate, rather abruptly narrowed into a short, not sharp, point rounded or somewhat narrowed at base, lateral veins 10 or more, margins entire, crinkled, petiole 2.5 cm. or less long;, stipular sheath not rosy; fr. in sessile axillary pairs, globular or ovoid, less than 1 cm. in diameter, becoming dark red.     


Habitat:  Escape from cultivation.  Popular indoor plant grows outdoors in frost free, wind protected areas.  (Sunset Editors, New Western Garden Book 1984, p. 299). Fruits in late summer.


Name:  Fi-cus, ancient Latin name of a fig.  The name benjamina probably refers to the supposed relation of the tree to the source of a resin or benzoin early procured from the East. (Bailey 339, 340).


General:  Rare in the study area with only one specimen known and this a large tree at Shellmaker Island. My old mentor John Johnson has commented that the growth habit of this tree is that of Ficus nitida; this was confirmed by Rik Katsmaier, a landscape architect.   Ficus benjamina is supposed to have more of a weeping habit.  The key in Bailey points to F. Benjamina with the main considerations being the number of lateral nerves in the leaves and the color of the fruit.  (my comments).        Hortus Third combines F. nitida within F. benjamina but since its publication F. nitida has become a separate species. As I have no written description of F. nitida, I will stay with Hortus Third. (my comments).     Ficus microcarpa, the Indian Laurel Fig and its variety nitida are widely used along streets throughout southern California and in the San Francisco area. (Sunset Editors, New Western Garden Book 1984, p. 299).       The roots of Ficus trees planted in parkways have become a real nuisance, causing adjacent sidewalks and curbs to lift out of place, thereby requiring expensive replacement by the cities that planted them.  Most cities no longer use Ficus species as parkway trees.  (my comments).      Nearly 2000 species in tropical and subtropical countries.   (Bailey 338).

Text Ref:  Bailey 340; Bailey Hortus Third 477; Sunset Editors, New Western Garden Book 1984, p. 299.

Photo Ref:  Oct 01 #1,9.

Identity: by R. De Ruff, confirmed by John Johnson.

First Found:  October 2001.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 534.

Plant specimen donated to UC Riverside in 2004. 

Last edit 8/6/05.  


                                          October Photo