Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Ficus opposita Miq.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Leaves and figs. © G. Sankowsky
Figs. CC-BY J.L. Dowe
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Male flowers, anthers 2-celled. © CSIRO
Female flowers Note hairs among flowers. © CSIRO
Fig long section, most flowers female Note hairs among flowers. © CSIRO
Female flowers(?). © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Miquel, F.A.W. (1848) Hooker's London Journal of Botany 7 : 426. Type: Hab. in Nova Hollandia, ad Bremer River (a. 1829, Fraser, n. 101! in Hb. Hook.).

Common name

Sandpaper Fig; Figwood; Fig; Fig, Sandpaper


Not a strangling fig. Seldom exceeding 30 cm dbh. Subrhytidome layer often yellow. Usually grows into a small tree but can flower and fruit as a shrub 1-3 m tall.


Petioles and twigs produce a milky exudate. Leaf blades about 6-14 x 4-6 cm, usually sandpapery on the upper surface. Stipules about 0.4-1.5 cm long and hairy on the outer surface. Younger leafy twigs and petioles hairy.


Tepals glabrous in male and female flowers but sparsely hairy near the apex in gall flowers. Male flowers produced around the ostiole. Bristles produced between the female and gall flowers. Stigma cylindric, papillose, style sparsely hairy in the upper half. Bracts at the base of the fig, usually three. Lateral bracts not present on the outside of the fig body.


Figs pedunculate, globular to depressed globular, about 15-20 mm diam., outer surface pubescent, sometimes black and shiny when ripe. Orifice closed by interlocking apical and internal bracts.


Cotyledons +/- orbicular, about 2-4 mm diam. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade elliptic, apex acute, base obtuse to auriculate, margin dentate, teeth on the upper half of the leaf blade, about 10-15 on each side; both the upper and lower surfaces scabrous; stipules linear, glabrous, falling early. Taproot swollen, carrot-like (Daucus carota). Seed germination time 11 to 29 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as south-eastern Queensland. Altitudinal range from sea level to 750 m. Grows in open forest, monsoon forest and beach forest. Also occurs in Malesia.

Natural History & Notes

Food plant for the larval stages of the Common Moonbeam Butterfly. Common & Waterhouse (1981).

Ficus opposita Miq. var. opposita, The Gardens' Bulletin Singapore 17: 471(1960). Ficus opposita Miq. var. opposita, London Journal Botany 7: 426(1848), Type: Queensland, Bremer River,1829, C. Fraser 101. Holo: ?. Ficus xerophila Domin, Bibliotheca Botanica 89(4): 568(1928), Type: Nord-Queensland: Smelling Bluff bei Chillagoe sowie am Chillagoe-Bache; mittelgrosse Baume (DOMIN Feb 1910); nur auf Karstalk beobachtet. Ficus yarrabensis Domin, Bibliotheca Botanica 89(4): 569(1928), Type: Nordost-Queensland, Yarrabah, Domin, Jan. 1910. Ficus cumingii Miq., Hook. Lond. Journ. Bot. 7: 235(1848), Type: Philippines. Ficus orbicularis A. Cunn. ex Miq., London Journal Botany 7: 426(1848), Type: Not designated. Ficus beckleri Miq., Journal Bot. Neerl. 1: 241(1861), Type: Northern Territory, Arnhem Land, Fitzmaurice River, Beckler?. Ficus cumingii var. androbrota (Summerh.) Corner, Gardens' Bulletin. Straits Settlements. Singapore 17: 458(1960). Ficus androbrota Summerh., Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 10: 143(1929). Ficus fitzalanii Miq., Journal de Botanique Neerlandaise 1: 242(1861), Type: Nova Hollandia bor. ad Prom. Cleveland: FITZALAN. Ficus aculeata A. Cunn. ex Miq., London Journal Botany 7: 426(1848), Type: Not designated.
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