Tag Archives: petiole

Identifying a fig’s proper name

One of the real difficulties that I deal with every day is how to identify a fig in someone’s collection.

Simply put this is frequently a very difficult task. There are many plant characteristics that botanists use to ID a plant. One of the really important characteristics would be  the syconia or figs of that plant. The problem is that many of our bonsai figs rarely if ever have syconia.

One factor that is often mentioned is the color of the petiole as a plant identifying feature. In my experience the color of the petiole can vary greatly in seedlings of the same species. In fact the color of the petiole can vary even on the same plant.

In the pictures you can see one plant of Ficus macrophylla. The close ups reveal a normal yellow/green petiole on some of the leaves and a red petiole on other leaves of the same plant. Conclusion is that the leaf petiole color is not a reliable chracteristic to ID your figs.

Ficus macrophylla plant in training as a bonsai

Ficus macrophylla plant in training as a bonsai


Yellow petioles on this plant


On another part of this same plant the petioles are red

The definitive reference work on Ficus
for bonsai. The book is a softcover, 8 by 10 inch volume, with 144 color pages, containing detailed information for the beginner as well as the advanced hobbyist.

Ficus palmeri

Ficus palmeri is a fig native to Baja and Mexico. It is often found growing in seasonally dry areas and adapts to times of drought by losing its leaves and storing water in its trunk. The trunk and basal roots are often found plastered over rocky areas with the roots draping down rock faces and into crevices in a search for water.

The leaves of this fig are relatively large with long peitoles and the tree’s nature is not to have very dense branching. This is a problem in getting this material to look tree-like and to respond to bonsai training and styling.

Ficus palmeri with a large water storing cause and pretty sparse branching

Ficus palmeri with a large water storing caudex and pretty sparse branching


Viewed from the other side