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Rock Fig / Native Fig

Ficus brachypoda

Rock Fig / Native Fig
Ficus brachypoda
Common name
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Rock Fig / Native Fig / Desert Fig Ficus brachypoda

The Rock or Native Fig is a spreading shrub or tree up to 8 m in height with smooth pale grey bark, and found growing on or near rock. Usually a tree of the tropic, this species has adapted to dry conditions and are found in gorges and other sheltered areas. The roots of the figs can penetrate half a kilometre into rock crevices in search of moisture. The broad, evergreen leaves have a skin which is glossy on one side, to reflect the sun's heat, and thick, to cut down water loss by evaporation.

This species consists of plants with various hair types and was previously described under F. platypoda and F. obliqua. Those plants found growing in the arid areas of its range tend to have leaves that are smaller, narrower, thicker and more leathery.

The fruit of the native fig in Central Australia are an important part of Aboriginal 'bush food' diet and such that the trees and where they grow were often regarded as sacred. The figs were were eaten raw or dried and ground into a paste and eaten with water or honey. Early European settlers sometimes gathered the ripe red fruit to make jam.

Figs in Central Australia provide home for up to 14 species of land snails, an animal not commonly seen in the desert. Although Native Figs survive fires and regrow from existing roots, snails are not so lucky, and are killed by the fires. As such, it may take hundreds of years to recolonise a burnt fig, even from nearby figs.

The Rock Fig can be found growing in gorges and rocky escarpment throughout Central Australia, northern parts of Western Australia, the Top End and outback Queensland, especially where there is water, even if it is deep underground.

Extreme care must be taken when identifying edible food plants and those used in bush medicine. Some bush foods are only edible at different stages of the plant cycle, or when treated appropriately. Bush medicine should only be used under the guidance of a qualified physician. Information here is only provided for research. You should always seek experts in the field to confirm the identification of the plant and whether they are edible or appropriate.

Scientific Name Common name Where Found
Ficus brachypoda Rock Fig, Native Fig, Wild Fig, Desert Fig This species has adapted to dry conditions found throughout the arid interior. Found in gorges and other sheltered areas.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Moraceae
Genus Ficus
Species: F. brachypoda
Binomial name: Ficus brachypoda
Ficus brachypoda Images
Native Fig (Ficus brachypoda) - Ulu<u>r</u>u-Kata Tju<u>t</u>a National Park
Rock Fig at Uluru
Native Fig / Rock Fig (Ficus brachypoda)
Rock Fig at Palm Valley
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