Ficus tremula (PROTA)
Ficus tremula Warb.
- Protologue: Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 20: 171 (1894).
- Family: Moraceae
- Ficus kimuenzensis Warb. (1904).
- Quiver-leaf fig (En).
- Mvumo, uzi (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Ficus tremula is distributed from Nigeria southward to Angola, and from Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Uganda southward to Mozambique and South Africa.
The bark is made into very strong string. In Kenya this string is used for making fish-traps, and the root for making woven bags. The tree provides shade and amenity.
Monoecious shrub, small tree or liana up to 15 m tall, with aerial roots; outer bark smooth, pale grey, not flaking off, inner bark fibrous, with milky, white latex; young branches sparsely hairy to glabrous. Leaves spirally arranged, simple; stipules free, up to 1(–3) cm long, glabrous, caducous; petiole 0.5–4.5 cm long; blade oblong, elliptical, ovate or obovate, 2–11 cm × 0.5–5 cm, base obtuse to rounded to emarginate or cordate, apex acute to acuminate, margin entire, papery to leathery, both surfaces glabrous or the midvein hairy beneath, pinnately veined with 5–9 pairs of lateral veins, with glandular spot at the base of the midvein beneath. Inflorescence a fig, the flowers enclosed within, figs 1–6 together on curved spurs up to 3 cm long on older wood, globose to ellipsoid, 1–3.5 cm in diameter, densely hairy to glabrous, greenish to brown at maturity; peduncle 0.5–3 cm long; basal bracts 2, 2–3 mm long, lateral bracts absent. Flowers unisexual; male flowers with 2–4 tepals and 1–4 stamens; female flowers with 2–4 tepals. Fruit ellipsoid to ovoid, 1.5–2 mm long, developing within the fig.
Ficus comprises about 750 species, with about 100 species in Africa, 500 species in tropical Asia and Australia, and 150 species in tropical America. Within Ficus tremula 3 subspecies are distinguished:
– subsp. tremula (Swahili names: mvumo, uzi): tree or sometimes a climber, twigs usually drying yellowish or greyish, leaf blade mostly drying dark brown above and greenish beneath, base of leaf blade rounded to emarginate; distributed from Kenya southward to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa; occurring from sea-level up to 600 m altitude in lowland dry evergreen forest, woodland and coastal bushland.
– subsp. acuta (De Wild.) C.C.Berg (synonym: Ficus acuta De Wild.): tree or often a liana, twigs drying brown to blackish, leaf blade drying brownish at both surfaces, base of leaf blade obtuse to rounded; distributed in DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Uganda; occurring at 1650–2300 m altitude in upland rainforest.
– subsp. kimuenzensis (Warb.) C.C.Berg (synonym: Ficus kimuenzensis Warb.): small tree or often a climber, twigs drying dark red-brown to blackish, leaf blade drying brownish without strong colour contrast between both surfaces, base of leaf blade cordate to rounded; distributed from Nigeria southward to Angola; occurring at low altitudes in forest and savanna.
The flowers of subsp. tremula and subsp. acuta are pollinated by the wasp Courtella wardi. In southern Africa Ficus tremula fruits in October–November.
Ficus tremula occurs from sea-level up to 2300 m altitude in forest, woodland and bushland.
It is unclear whether Ficus tremula or any of its subspecies are threatened by genetic erosion.
Ficus tremula provides string, but very little information is available on other uses of the fibre and its properties. The species is only locally used and is unlikely to become more important in the future.
- Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
- Berg, C.C., 1988. New taxa and combinations in Ficus (Moraceae) of Africa. Kew Bulletin 43(1): 77–97.
- Berg, C.C. & Hijman, M.E.E., 1989. Moraceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 95 pp.
- Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
- Lovett, J.C., Ruffo, C.K., Gereau, R.E. & Taplin, J.R.D., 2007. Field guide to the moist forest trees of Tanzania. [Internet] Centre for Ecology Law and Policy, Environment Department, University of York, York, United Kingdom. http://celp.org.uk/ projects/ tzforeco/. June 2009.
- Berg, C.C., 1991. Moraceae. In: Launert, E. & Pope, G.V. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 9, part 6. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 13–76.
- Berg, C.C., Hijman, M.E.E. & Weerdenburg, J.C.A., 1984. Moraceae. Flore du Gabon. Volume 26. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 276 pp.
- Berg, C.C., Hijman, M.E.E. & Weerdenburg, J.C.A., 1985. Moraceae (incl. Cecropiaceae). Flore du Cameroun. Volume 28. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. 298 pp.
- Coates Palgrave, K., 1983. Trees of southern Africa. 2nd Edition. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa. 959 pp.
- Medley, K.E. & Kalibo, H.W., 2007. Ethnobotanical survey of 'wild' woody plant resources at Mount Kasigau, Kenya. Journal of East African Natural History 96(2): 149–186.
- van Noort, S. & Rasplus, J.Y., 2007. Figs and fig wasps. [Internet] http://www.figweb.org/ Figs_and_fig_wasps/ index.htm. July 2009.
- van Noort, S., Gardiner, A.J. & Tolley, K.A., 2007. New records of Ficus (Moraceae) species emphasize the conservation significance of inselbergs in Mozambique. South African Journal of Botany 73(4): 642–649.
- 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 tremula Warb. [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 December 2020.
- See the Prota4U database.