#67 February 2017 Fig Trees in the Illawarra

Fig Trees in the Illawarra

Berry Landcare

Fig Trees in the Illawarra:

What a marvellous genus of plant species is the ‘Ficus’. Fig trees feed more bird and mammals than any other plant. There are over 750 species of Ficus each relying on its own wasp species to pollinate its flowers. The fig fruit is an urn-like structure lined on the inside with the fig's tiny flowers. The unique fig pollination system, involves tiny, highly specific wasps, known as fig wasps that enter these sub-closed fruits to both pollinate and lay their own eggs. The fruit then ripen and a vast variety of fauna then spread  the seeds, Flying Foxes to Fig Birds. All figs possess a white to yellowish latex some in copious quantities. Typically, the commercial Indian Rubber tree.

There are many local fig plants. Both the Moreton Bay (Ficus macrophylla) and the Port Jackson (Ficus rubiginosa) are rainforest trees native to the eastern coast of Australia. These are often seen as mature “paddock” trees from the highway acting as shade trees for stock. As trees in the rainforest they are buttressed giants that grow to above the top canopy and can be over 200 years old. Part of their survival comes from their success as strangler trees. They germinate high up in the branches of other species and drop air roots down to the forest floor. They then  grow up to the canopy and eventually strangle their host. A fine example of this process is roadside on upper Broughton Vale road. The host tree is a Red Cedar.

The most common local fig is the Sandpaper Fig (Ficus coronata). The name Coronata (crown) a reference to a ring of bristles around the apex of the fruit. The top surface of the leaf had a rough sandpaper finish. This plant was used by the Wodi Wodi people for tucker and as a sandpaper in tool making.  It is found along watercourses and gullies, in rainforest, and less commonly in open forest. It is one of the first recolonising plants that appears in areas of revegetating riparian and  rain-forest.

You can become familiar with these and other local plants in this beautiful part of our country by joining a local Landcare Working Bee.

Working Bees for February 2017:

Alexandra Street Parkcare: 9-11 am Friday 17th February: Gail Paton 44487915.

Broughton Vale: 2-4 pm Sunday 5th February: Barry Virtue 44641389.

Bong Bong Road: 9-11am Sunday 12th February Julia Woinarski 4464 2084.

Bundewallah Bushcare: 2-4pm Sunday 26th February: John Clark 44643911.

Camp Quality: 9-11am Sunday 19th February: Hugh Sheil hugh.sheil@realtimecom.com.au or Jeanne Highland 4464 1271.

David Berry Hospital: 2-4pm Saturday 18th February: Leslie Pigott 44643241.

Mount Coolangatta: 1-3 pm Saturday 18th February: Nola Barker. Mobile 040944-6418, nolajbarker@live.com.au. Time to be advised. Meet at end of Roxbrough Rd, Far Meadow.

Mark Radium Park: 9-10am Friday 24th February: Rodney Cole 4464 1475.

Princess St. Park, 9 - 11am Monday 27th February, Terry Oades, 44643651.

Tindalls Lane: Time to be advised, contact Jim Jefferis 4464 2988.

Information can also be found at Berry Landcare on Facebook.

Plant identification service: Please contact Harvey Blue 4464 1880 or Ian Parker, 4448 6359.


Visit our pages at: http://www.landcare.nsw.gov.au/groups/berry-landcare for more on Berry Landcare and late changes to working bee details. Information can also be found on Facebook.