Tag Archives: syconia

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 burtt-davyi

Ficus burtt-davyi is one of the figs that is not too infrequently used for bonsai.

There are many cultivars of this fig differentiated by small, medium or large leaves. Even the large leaf form has leaves that are only two or three inches in length.

One of the great attributes of this fig is that it will form figs nearly every year about the time that the new foliage is getting ready to sprout. Figs/syconia are small in size, start as green in color and mature to red or dark purple. Of course the seed inside is not fertile as the specific pollenating wasp is not present in my plant room.

Ficus burtt-davyi with numerous figs/syconia

Ficus burtt-davyi with numerous figs/syconia