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FLIP

FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Ficus microcarpa

Common Name(s): Indian laurel, Chinese banyan

Origin

India and Malaysia

Ecological Impact

Crowds out native plants in the tropical hammocks of Central and South Florida (S. V. Wells, Miami-Dade Parks Department, 1995 personal communication).

Description

Evergreen tree grows to 15 m (50 ft) or more in height, with a rounded dense crown, smooth gray bark, milky sap, and long, thin, dangling aerial roots. Leaves alternate, simple, leathery, deep glossy green, oval-elliptic to diamond-shaped, grow to 13 cm long, with short pointed, ridged tips. Flowers tiny, unisexual, numerous, hidden within the “fig;” a fleshy, specialized receptacle that develops into a multiple fruit. (Langeland and Burks, 1998)

Identification Tips

Grows on palm tree trunks, limestone rocks, and in building crevices (T. Pernas, National Park Service, 1995 personal communication).

History

Introduced for ornament before 1912 (Fairchild 1938), and popular as a street tree in south Florida for decades. Began spreading by seed in the 1970s, following an apparently accidental introduction of species-specific pollinating wasps. 

Range

Primarily found in coastal counties of  central and south Florida including: Monroe,  Miami-Dade, Collier, Palm Beach, and Martin counties.

Management Strategies

Spray herbicide on basal bark of plant to treat epiphytic figs. Practice with extreme care to ensure herbicide does not come into contact with the host tree. 

Photos

Most photos courtesy of the Atlas of Florida Plants; click for additional plant details.

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Florida Invasive Plants