Ficus subg. Pharmacosycea

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Ficus subg. Pharmacosycea


Trees (or shrubs), terrestrial, monoecious. internal hairs absent or present; Leaves spirally arranged or (sub)distichous; stipules fully amplexicaul, often relatively long. stamens 1, 2, or 3; Ovaries whitish or reddish; Fruits ellipsoid, smooth.


Asia-Tropical, From West Africa to New Caledonia present, Neotropical present, neotropics present
From West Africa to New Caledonia and in the Neotropics; c. 70 species, of which c. 25 neotropical and 23 in Malesia.


In general, sect. Pharmacosycea is less variable in its features than sect. Oreosycea. Moreover, the general features of the former section are more similar to those of subg. Urostigma than to those of sect. Oreosycea. The characters and the variation patterns of the latter section show to some extent similarities to the dioecious subdivisions of Ficus, as in the irregularities of the basal bracts, development of a stipe below the fig receptacle, variation in the length of petioles on the same twig, texture of the lamina, occurrence of lobate laminas, occurrence of hairs inside the fig receptacle, occurrence of (sub)distichous leaves, in the position of the leaves, and the presence of cauliflory, pachyclady (or pachycauly sensu Corner), and hollow internodes.

The species are terrestrial and often produce trees of considerable height, often with buttresses. This may be the reason that several of these species are poorly represented in herbarium collections. Quite a different life form, resembling that found in subg. Sycidium sect. Palaeomorphe is described for the neotropical species F. crassiuscula Standl. (Daniels & Lawton 1991).

The basal bracts are in some species not verticillate but scattered on the peduncle, as normal in subg. Sycidium. Such bracts are indicated as peduncular bracts in subg. Sycidium, but in sect. Oreosycea still as basal bracts. Moreover, the number of basal bracts may be less than the normal three.


The subgenus comprises two sections, a Palaeotropical one, sect. Oreosycea (with c. 45 species) and a neotropical one, sect. Pharmacosycea (with c. 25 species). The sections show strong morphological affinities: similarities in characters and in differentiation patterns. The similarities are most pronounced between the eastern Malesian F. nervosa-group and the neotropical section. The characters differentiating sect. Oreosycea and sect. Pharmacosycea are rather weak and include: leaves sometimes (sub)distichous versus always spirally arranged; lamina always coriaceous to chartaceous and sometimes with a lobate or dentate margin versus always coriacous and with an entire margin; figs usually in pairs versus usually solitary; fig receptacle often stipitate versus non-stipitate; pluricellular oblongoid-capitate hairs (if present) brownish with few cells versus whitish with more cells; stamens 1-3 and rather small versus 2 and large; the perianth of the staminate flower usually tubular versus usually with free tepals; figs at maturity often red versus mostly green, However, close relationship between the two sections is not supported by molecular analyses (Herre et al. 1996; Weiblen 2000). Moreover, the fig wasp genus Tetrapus, which is the genus of pollinators of sect. Pharmacosycea has an isolated taxonomic position as well (see Wiebes 1994).
The subdivision of the subgenus is as follows:
  • Subg. Pharmacosycea
    • Sect. Pharmacosycea
    • Sect. Oreosycea
      • Subsect. Glandulosae
        • Ficus austrocaledonica-group
        • Ficus nervosa-group
      • Subsect. Pedunculatae
        • Ficus albipila-group
        • Ficus vasculosa-group
A. Daniels, J.D. & R.O. Lawton 1991: Habitat and host preferences of Ficus crassiuscula, a neotropical strangling fig of the lower-montane forest. – J. Ecol. 79, B. Herre, E.A., C.A. Machado, E. Bermingham, J.D. Nason, D.M. Windsor, S.S. McCafferty, W. van Houten & K. Bachmann 1996: Molecular phylogenies of figs and their pollinator wasps. – J. Biogeogr. 23, C. Weiblen, G.D. 2000: Phylogenetic relationships of functionally dioecious Ficus (Moraceae) based on ribosomal DNA sequences and morphology. – Amer. J. Bot. 87, D. Wiebes, J.T. 1994: The Indo-Australian Agaoninae (pollinators of figs). – Verh. Kon. Ned. Akad. Wet., afd. Natk. 92


Miq. 1848 – In: London J. Bot.: 64
L. 1970 – In: Philos. Trans.: 383
Corner 1960 – In: Gard. Bull. Singapore 17: 405