Fig leaves are very variable from species to species. This is helpful in trying to identify a fig as belonging to a certain species. The problem is that the leaves on even a single plant can show great variation depending upon cultural conditions of light, moisture, growth in a container, wind, etc.
As an example the shot below shows several leaves removed from a single Ficus plant. The variability would make an attemp at a scientific identification very difficult. Many factors must be used to help in correctly identifying a fig. These include the leaf, bark, syconia, stipules etc.
Figs are wonderful plants to use for bonsai but they can infuriating to correctly identify without figs/syconia.
Ficus leaves removed from one plant showing the highly variable shape and character of the leaves
This is a Ficus rumphii, an unusual and rare bonsai subject in the west. This specimen is about 8 years old and seed grown.
Leaves are large but reduce with defoliation. There is some random branch die back suggesting that this may not make the best bonsai subject.
The bark is a rather stark whitish brown.
Ficus rumphii, about 12″ tall with most leaves removed
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Ficus or figs are in a large family of plants showing many interesting and varied characteristics.
One of the most interesting aspects of various figs is the leaf. Leaves can be large, smooth or hairy, glossy or dull and have many, many other variations.
The photo below shows some fig leaves and their variation. The size of the leaves varies from 7″ to about 1″ on the right. All can be used for bonsai of various sizes depending on how much the leaves can reduce with proper culture and care.
Fig leaves from the left are benghalensis, ingens, religiosa, microcarpa and salicaria