Okavango River
Okavango River
Mata to Bitterpan Trail
Mata to Bitterpan Trail
Camping under Baobab Tree
Camping under Baobab Tree
Self Drive in Rainy Season
Self Drive in Rainy Season

Sycamore Fig Tree

Sycamore Fig Tree
Setswana Name: 
Mochaba
Scientific Name: 
Ficus sycomorus
Family: 
Fig Family (Moraceae)

Description

This species is probably the best-known of all wild figs and certainly one of the most spectacular trees to be found in the Okavango Delta. It is a massive tree, achieving heights of up to 20m, although this is often underestimated because of its sturdy trunk. The most distinguishing characteristic is certainly the deeply fluted stem with the bright orange bark. The stem forms flattened buttresses that reinforce the tree, making it impossible for an elephant to uproot.

The natural holes and crevices formed by the fluted stems are often inhabited by reptiles, rodents and even warthog on occasion. Fruits are borne in dense clusters on the thick branches. The crown is wide-spreading, very dense and rounded. Although it is a semi-deciduous tree it is seldom leafless, because new leaves appear before the old ones have been shed. The rough, round leaves are also diagnostic and reminiscent of mulberry leaves. The bark and twigs of this species, as well as those of all other fig trees, contain a milky latex.

Bark

Very characteristic. Greenish-yellow to orange. Peels off in paper-thin shreds. Contains latex.

Leaves

Simple and very large. Borne spirally around the twigs. It is rough to touch.

Flowers

Inside the fig.

Fruit

Large figs (up to 3cm in diametre). Buff-green when young and yellow or pale red to red when mature. Borne in thick clusters on long caudicles on the thick branches.

Flowering and fruiting

Throughout the year, with a peak from July to December.

Distribution

Sycamore fig tree usually grows near water, forming a distinctive component of the riverine thicket, but is also found in mixed woodland.