Ficus bussei (PROTA)
Ficus bussei Warb. ex Mildbr.
- Protologue: Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 46: 213 (1911).
- Family: Moraceae
- Chromosome number: 2n = 26
- Busse’s fig, Zambezi fig (En).
- Mkuyu, mtamba (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Ficus bussei is distributed from eastern DR Congo, Somalia and Kenya southward through Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia to Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
String and rope are made from the bark. The wood is made into furniture and mortars. The root powder mixed with water is drunk for the treatment of impotence, cardiac pain and hysteria. A bark decoction is drunk in case of retention of the afterbirth. Ash from the bark is taken with butter against hiccups.
Monoecious, medium-sized tree up to 25 m tall, often starting as an epiphyte; bole fluted, aerial roots often present; outer bark smooth, grey to dark brown, inner bark pale pink and brown, fibrous, with latex; young branches hairy to glabrous. Leaves spirally arranged, clustered near the ends of branches, simple; stipules up to 1.5(–5) cm long, glabrous or hairy at the base, caducous; petiole 2–8 cm long, hairy; blade ovate to oblong or elliptical, 5–30 cm × 3–11.5(–13) cm, base cordate, rarely rounded, apex acute to obtuse, margin entire to wavy, leathery, upper surface glabrous or hairy on midvein, lower surface glabrous or sparsely hairy, pinnately veined with (8–)9–16 pairs of lateral veins, with glandular spot at the base of the midvein beneath. Inflorescence a fig, the flowers enclosed within, figs 1–2 together in the leaf axils, globose or rarely ellipsoid, 1.5–3 cm in diameter, hairy, smooth or warted, green or yellow at maturity; peduncle 1–2.5 cm long, recurved; basal bracts 3–7 mm long, persistent, lateral bracts absent. Flowers unisexual; male flowers with 2–4 tepals and 1 stamen; female flowers with 2–4 tepals.
In southern Africa Ficus bussei flowers in September–February.
Ficus comprises about 750 species, with about 100 species in Africa, 500 species in tropical Asia and Australia, and 150 species in tropical America. In Central Africa the bark of various other Ficus species, including Ficus lingua De Wild. & T.Durand ex Warb. (synonym: Ficus buxifolia De Wild.), Ficus preussii Warb., Ficus scassellatii Pamp. (synonym: Ficus michelsonii Boutique & J.Léonard) and Ficus wildemaniana Warb. have been used for making cloth. Ficus lingua is a medium-sized hemi-epiphytic tree up to 30 m tall, distributed from Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire eastward through Central Africa to Kenya and Uganda, and from there southward to Mozambique and South Africa. Ficus preussii is a hemi-epiphytic shrub or small tree up to 10 m tall, occurring from Nigeria eastward through Central Africa to Uganda. Ficus scassellatii (Swahili name: mninga) is a small to large hemi-epiphytic tree up to 50 m tall, distributed from eastern DR Congo, Somalia and Kenya southward through Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Ficus wildemaniana a hemi-epiphytic shrub or tree, distributed from Cameroon eastward through Central Africa to Uganda. Cloth was made from these species by removing pieces of bark from the bole and large branches, soaking them in water for several days, drying them in the shade and beating them with a mallet to make them supple enough for use. Ficus lingua is also used for shade and outside tropical Africa as an ornamental plant, for instance as a bonsai tree. Ficus scassellatii is used for shade, amenity and grave marks; its latex is used for producing birdlime. The latex of Ficus wildemaniana is drunk with honey for the treatment of cardiac problems.
Ficus bussei occurs from sea-level up to 600(–1000) m altitude in lowland forest, woodland, riverine and swamp forest, coral rag forest and flood plains, occasionally at springs.
It is unclear whether Ficus bussei is threatened by genetic erosion.
Ficus bussei is known to be a local source of fibre for cordage, but no information is available on the properties of its fibre, making it difficult to assess its prospects. However, the species seems not important at present and is unlikely to gain importance in the future.
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- M. Brink, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Correct citation of this article
Brink, M., 2010. Ficus bussei Warb. ex Mildbr. & Burret. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>.
Accessed 7 March 2020.
- See the Prota4U database.