Ficus pumila (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Ficus pumila L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 2: 1060 (1753).


  • Ficus stipulata Thunb. (1786),
  • F. scandens Lamk (1788),
  • F. repens Hort. var. lutchuensis Koidz. (1925).

Vernacular names

  • Creeping fig, fig ivy (En)
  • Indonesia: karet rambat
  • Thailand: madueo thao, lin suea
  • Vietnam: cây thằn lằn, cây xộp xộp, bi lệ.


Indigenous in Japan, China, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan and northern Indo-China. At present widely cultivated as an ornamental and pot plant in tropical and subtropical regions.


In folk medicine in Vietnam, the fruits and the leaves are considered to be tonic and are used in cases of impotence, lumbago and as a galactagogue. Furthermore, they are considered a treatment for rheumatism, anaemia, haematura, chronic dysentery and haemorrhoids. Externally the leaves are applied to carbuncles. The latex is reported to have anthelmintic properties. In cases of dropsy the plant ash is rubbed on the body. F. pumila is widely cultivated to cover walls and rock faces; the colourful figs add further lustre to the attractive green foliage. Various selections are commercially grown as a pot plant in temperate regions.


  • A prostrate or climbing shrub, reaching up to 10 m or more, creeping and clinging close to walls or tree trunks by means of numerous aerial rootlets, ultimate branches 30-80 cm long, erect.
  • Leaves dimorphous, two-ranked, on sterile branches ovate, 1.5-3 cm long and shortly petioled, on fertile branches oblong, 5-10 cm long and with long petioles; figs solitary in the axils of leaves, pyriform, 40-60 mm long, yellow-brown pilose when young, ripening glabrous, red to dark blue.
  • Male flowers in many rows, filling the distal half of the fig, stipitate with 2-3 stamens, female flowers sessile or shortly stipitate.

F. pumila is an increasingly common feature in urban areas.

Selected sources

97, 281, 287, 364, 856, 900, 921, 1035, 1126, 1178, 1289.


J.P. Rojo, F.C. Pitargue & M.S.M. Sosef