The Sycamore Fig.
Ficus sycomorus, called the sycamore fig or the mulberry-fig (because the leaves resemble those of the Mulberry), has been cultivated since ancient times.
It is native to Africa south of the Sahel where the tree is usually found in rich soils along rivers and in mixed woodlands. To experience these magnificent trees, take spend some and have a look at the micro-habitat to so many other species of Bats, Birds, Insects and Mammals, you will be surprised at what hides in the branches and shade of this giant of Africa.
Ficus sycomorus grows to 20 m tall and 6 m wide with a dense round crown of spreading branches. The leaves are heart-shaped with a round apex, 14 cm long by 10 cm wide, and arranged spirally around the twig.
They are dark green above and lighter with prominent yellow veins below, and both surfaces are rough to the touch. The petiole is 0.5–3 cm long and pubescent. The fruit is a large edible fig, 2–3 cm in diameter, ripening from buff-green to yellow or red. They are borne in thick clusters on long branchlets or the leaf axil. Flowering and fruiting occurs year-round, peaking from July to December. The bark is green-yellow to orange and exfoliates in papery strips to reveal the yellow inner bark. Like all other figs, it contains a latex.
This species of fig requires the presence of the symbiotic wasp, Ceratosolen arabicus, to reproduce sexually.
In tropical areas, where the wasp is common, complex mini-ecosystems involving the wasp, nematodes, other parasitic wasps and various larger predators, revolve around the life cycle of the fig. The trees' random production of fruit in such environments assures its constant attendance by the insects and animals which form this ecosystem.
The Ancient Egyptians cultivated this species "almost exclusively".
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