Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Ficus benjamina L.

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Leaves and figs. © CSIRO
Figs, side view and cross section. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Female flowers. © CSIRO
Male & female flowers(?). © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Linnaeus, C. von (1767) Mantissa Plantarum : 129. Type: Habitat in India.

Common name

Benjamin Fig; Fig, Benjamin; Fig, Weeping; Weeping Fig


A strangling fig or sometimes growing on rocks. Lenticels tending to be in horizontal lines. Twigs and branches weeping but not as conspicuously as Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica). Dead bark yellowish brown when cut.


Petioles and twigs produce a milky exudate. Leaf blades about 3-12 x 1.5-6 cm. Stipules smooth about 1-2 cm long. Oil dots visible with a lens on both the upper and lower surfaces.


Male flowers dispersed throughout the fig. Stigma globose and hairy. Bracts at the base of the fig, three. Lateral bracts not present on the outside of the fig body.


Figs sessile, globular, about 10-12 x 10-12 mm. Orifice +/- closed by interlocking apical and internal bracts.


Cotyledons small, almost orbicular, about 2-3 mm long. Oil dots very small, difficult to see with a lens. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade lanceolate, glabrous, veins about 12-20 each side of the midrib, intramarginal vein distinct; oil dots small, visible with a lens; stipules narrowly triangular, sheathing the terminal bud and falling early soon after the shoot expands. Seed germination time 13 to 34 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NT, CYP, NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 250 m. Grows in monsoon forest and drier, more seasonal rain forest. Also occurs in SE Asia and Malesia. This species is widely cultivated in Queensland but it is not at all certain that the cultivated form originated in Australia.

Natural History & Notes

Fruit eaten by Fruit Pigeons. Cooper & Cooper (1994).

Commonly cultivated as a large spreading shade tree. Withstands strong winds. Also grown extensively as an indoor plant.

Ficus benjamina L. var. benjamina, The Gardens' Bulletin Singapore 17 : 396(1960). Urostigma nitidum Miq., Hooker's London Journal of Botany 6 : 584(1847). Ficus nitida Thunb., Diss. Ficus : 10(1786), Type: Not designated. Fide Chew (1989) Fl. Australia 3: 37.
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