Ficus politoria (PROTA)
Ficus politoria Lam.
- Protologue: Encycl. 2: 500 (1788).
- Family: Moraceae
- Ficus soroceoides Baker (1883).
Origin and geographic distribution
Ficus politoria is endemic to Madagascar.
The leaf is used as sandpaper to polish wood and metals. The pounded bark was formerly used for making loincloth. The wood is used in the construction of house frames. Reports on the edibility of the fruit are contrasting.
In traditional medicine in Madagascar a decoction of the young leaf or bud is taken for the treatment of stomach-ache. An infusion of the leaf is given as a tonic to sick people. The abrasive leaf surface is used to scarify the skin to promote penetration of medicines.
Dioecious shrub or small tree up to 8(–15) m tall; bole up to 15 cm in diameter; outer bark of leafy branches scabrid to smooth, when dry pale to dark brown or greyish, in older parts flaking off, inner bark with milky latex; branches scabrous to smooth, hispidulous to almost glabrous. Leaves almost distichous, sometimes opposite, simple; stipules up to 0.5 cm long, glabrous, caducous; petiole up to 1(–3) cm long, sparsely hispidulous; blade elliptical to oblong, obovate, lanceolate, orbicular or linear, 1.5–10(–16) cm × 1–4(–6.5) cm, often slightly unequal-sided, base acute to rounded, apex acuminate, sometimes 3-dentate, margin irregularly toothed to almost entire, papery to leathery, upper surface scabrid, sparsely hispidulous, lower surface scabrid and hispidulous, pinnately veined with 4–8(–10) pairs of lateral veins, with glandular spots in the axils of the main lateral veins below. Inflorescence a fig, the flowers enclosed within, figs 1–2(–4) together in the leaf axils or on older wood, globose, 0.5–1 cm in diameter when dry, hispidulous, yellow, orange, red or red-brown at maturity; peduncle up to 1(–2.5) cm long, hispidulous; basal bracts 3–4, ovate, c. 0.5 mm long. Flowers unisexual; male flowers sessile or short-pedicellate, tepals 4–5(–6), 1–1.5 mm long, stamens 1(–2); female flowers with 4–6 tepals (1–)1.5–2 mm long, seed flowers sessile or on pedicel up to 1.5 cm long, gall flowers sessile or on pedicel up to 1 mm long. Fruit ellipsoid to ovoid, c. 1 mm long, developing within the fig; ‘gall fruits’ ellipsoid to ovoid, 1.5–2 mm long.
Ficus politoria is pollinated by the wasp Kradibia saundersi.
Ficus comprises about 750 species, with about 100 species in Africa, 500 species in tropical Asia and Australia, and 150 species in tropical America.
Ficus politoria occurs from sea level up to 1700(–2000) m altitude in forest and disturbed vegetation.
It is unclear whether Ficus politoria is threatened by genetic erosion, but it seems rather common in Madagascar as it has often been collected.
Ficus politoria is used for polishing, construction and medicinal purposes. No information is available on its properties in relation to its uses, so its prospects cannot properly be assessed.
- Berg, C.C., 1986. The Ficus species (Moraceae) of Madagascar and the Comoro Islands. Bulletin du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 4e série, 8, section B, Adansonia (1): 17–55.
- Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
- Perrier de la Bâthie, H. & Leandri, J., 1952. Moracées (Moraceae). Flore de Madagascar et des Comores (plantes vasculaires), famille 55. Firmin-Didot et cie., Paris, France. 76 pp.
- Debray, M., Jacquemin, H. & Razafindrambao, R., 1971. Contribution à l’inventaire des plantes médicinales de Madagascar. Travaux et Documents No 8. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 150 pp.
- Decary, R., 1946. Plantes et animaux utiles de Madagascar. Annales du Musée Colonial de Marseille, 54e année, 6e série, 4e volume, 1er et dernier fascicule. 234 pp.
- Kremen, C., Raymond, I., Lance, K. & Weiss, A., 1996. Monitoring natural resource use on the Masoala Peninsula, Madagascar: a tool for managing integrated conservation and development projects. In: Saterson, K., Margoluis, R. & Salafsky, N. (Editors). Measuring conservation impact: an interdisciplinary approach to project monitoring and evaluation. Proceedings from a Biodiversity Support Program symposium held at the joint annual meetings of the Ecological Society of America and the Society for Conservation Biology in Providence, Rhode Island, August 1996. World Wildlife Fund, Washington D.C., United States. pp. 63–82.
- van Noort, S. & Rasplus, J.Y., 2007. Figs and fig wasps. [Internet] http://www.figweb.org/ Figs_and_fig_wasps/ index.htm. July 2009.
- 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 politoria Lam. [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 21 February 2020.
- See the Prota4U database.