Sycomore Fig – Ficus sycomorus
Other Names: Sycamore Fig, Common Cluster Fig, Fig-mulberry, Egyptian Sycomore, Motshaba (Tshwane), Mukuyukono (Shona), Muonde (Shona), Musvunguzu (Shona), Umkhiwa (Ndebele).
Distinctive Characteristics: The Sycomore Fig is a common deciduous to semi-deciduous tree with large, dark-green leaves, and clustering figs. It exudes milky latex. It has distinctive buttressing, fluting trunk, and patchy green-yellow to orange-brown bark that exfoliates in papery strips, revealing a yellow inner bark underneath. Like all figs, Sycomore Figs depend on one particular species of symbiotic wasp for pollination.
Distribution: Native and common throughout Africa south of the Sahara, excluding west Africa, and dipping into northern South Africa, as well as the Southern Arabian peninsula, Lebanon, Cyprus, restricted areas in Madagascar.
Ecosystem: Found in rich soils in riparian areas and in mixed woodlands with Natal Mahogany, Fever Trees, Nyala Trees and Sausage Trees.
Maximum Age: Approximately 800 years.
Maximum Height and Girth: 66 ft. (20 m) in height; 65 ft. (20 m) in circumference.
Animal Community: The small figs are an important food source for many mammals including elephants, Wahlberg's epauletted fruit bats, thick-tailed bush babies, and birds including African green pigeon and purple crested lourie.
Medicine: Used for lung ailments, sore throats, inflammation, swollen glands, and diarrhea.
Food: The fruits are edible.
Tools: The soft wood was used as a friction base for fire-starting.
Art and Ceremony: Wood was used to make drums. In ancient Egypt, Sycomore Fig was a prominent tree, used for mummy caskets, and associated with the afterlife, and the rebirth of the god Osiris.
Threats and Conservation: Not threatened.