Ficus L. subg. Urostigma (Gasp.) Miq. sect. Urostigma (Gasp.) Endl. subsect. Urostigma (Gasp.) C.C. Berg

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Ficus L. subg. Urostigma (Gasp.) Miq. sect. Urostigma (Gasp.) Endl. subsect. Urostigma (Gasp.) C.C. Berg

Description

Trees, with ± clear morphological indications of intermittent growth, often deciduous. — All species are essentially hemi-epiphytic, but without abundant aerial roots. Many of them are hemi-epilithic, or some often terrestrial. Most of the species remaining medium-sized trees and are rarely taller than 25 m, but F. superba and F. virens often become 30-35 m tall. Most species show intermittent growth, usually seasonal and accompanied with deciduousness. The stipules on growing twigs are often longer, on opening-shoots often much longer and thinner than those at the top of the season’s growth, which in some species, as F. caulocarpa and F. superba, are subpersistent and form ovoid terminal buds. The scars of these stipules are concentrated at the basis of the season’s growth.

Differences in colours or exfoliation of the periderm mark successive growth segments of the branches (when dried).
internal hairs present and often ± chaffy or absent. — Articulation of the leaves is often clear from features at the junction of the (relatively) long petiole and lamina. The articulation may cause that the petiole and lamina are not in the same plane. In F. religiosa the articulation makes that the leaves clatter in the wind like poplar leaves. The coriaceous lamina of subg. Urostigma has usually a well-developed hypodermis on both sides, but species of subsect. Urostigma, apart from F. hookeriana Corner, and F. orthoneura H. Lév. & Vaniot, have no hypodermis.
Leaves spirally arranged, often articulate or subarticulate; Ovary red-brown (or white).

Distribution

From West Africa and Madagascar through the Asian mainland to Japan and through (southern) Malesia to Australia and the Pacific: present
From West Africa and Madagascar through the Asian mainland to Japan and through (southern) Malesia to Australia and the Pacific; mostly in relatively dry types of vegetation and/or seasonal conditions, often monsoon forest, savannah, or littoral vegetation, often on or near rocks, at low altitudes.

The subsection comprises c. 25 species, of which five African-Madagascan (see ); four are Indian; F. prolixa G. Forst. is confined to the Pacific region; F. henneana Miq. to Australia; and F. prasinicarpa to the Philippines; F. virens is widespread, ranging from Sri Lanka to N Australia and the Pacific; and the others can be regarded as elements of the Sino-Himalayan flora, some of them, F. saxophila and F. superba extending far into the Malesian region, the latter even to N Australia.

The distribution pattern of this subsection show similarities to the distribution of sect. Pedunculatae of subg. Pharmacosycea (see p. 162), to the F. heterophylla-group of subg. Sycidium (see p. 209), and to sect. Phyllochlamys of Streblus.

Taxonomy

Corner (1960) created sect. Leucosyce to accommodate F. amplissima Sm. (India) and F. rumphii, distinct from the other Asian-Australasian species (ranked in sect. Urostigma; Corner 1960) in the colour of the ovaries, whitish vs red(-brown) and the position of the staminate flowers, scattered among the pistillate ones vs arranged near the ostiole. Moreover, both ‘Leucosyce’ species have cystoliths at both sides of the lamina, whereas in the others nearly always only beneath. As such differences in the genus are found in related species or even within species, these differentiating characters are not strong enough to justify distinction at the section or subsection level. It is noteworthy that the two ‘Leucosyce’ species are pollinated by species of Eupristina subg. Parapristina, of which other species are pollinators of some species of subsect. Conosycea, whereas the majority of subsect. Urostigma are pollinated by species of Platyscapa, of which some other species are associated with species of subsect. Conosycea.

The African-Madagascan species do not have articulate leaves.

The ‘technical’ morphological differences between subsect. Urostigma and subsect. Conosycea are rather weak and include absence of (sub)articulate leaves, more copious production of aerial roots, petioles relatively short and thick, staminate flowers consistently disperse, internal hairs mostly absent, the upper ostiolar bracts often not fully imbricate.

The ecological(-phytogeographic) aspect, as evident from the association with relatively dry habitats and seasonal conditions, intermittent growth, deciduousness, supports recognition of the group of species at the subsection level. However, F. hookeriana and F. orthoneura, two species of the Sino-Himalayan region, show a remarkable mixture of ‘Conosycea’ and ‘Urostigma’ characters.

The other c. 21 species of the subsection could be ranked into two groups: 1) with figs on spurs on the older wood, those put by Corner (1960) in the series Caulobotryae and Superbae; and 2) those in which the figs are borne axillary, or if below the leaves, then not on spurs.

Citation

L. - in Contr. Hort. Inst. Taihoku Imp. Univ. 1944: 213, 377