Ficus lyrata

Ficus lyrata.

The Fiddle-leaf Fig is in Family Moraceae > Genus Ficus > Subgenus Urostigma.
Native to Africa it is widely cultivated as an outdoor and indoor plant.

It is often grown as a small shrub a few metres high but can grow to a 30 m high tree.
The thick often single trunk has brown to grey bark with multiple vertical cracks.
It has no aerial roots so is not a strangler fig.
The dense spreading crown can be irregular or round.
New shoots have very fine hairs and broken stems exude white latex.

The simple leaves, on a smooth grooved petiole up to 5 cm long are alternately arranged.
The narrow lanceolate stipules, also up to 5 cm long have no hairs.
Leaves are variable in shape but some resemble an ancient fiddle or lyre.
On large trees the leaves are 30 to 45 cm long and 20 to 30 cm wide.
The evergreen leaves are mostly obovate, cordate or obcordate.
The tip is flat to blunt, the base heart-shaped (cordate) and the smooth edge is wavy.

The yellowish midvein and the up to 5 lateral veins on each side are prominent.
They are sunken on the upper surface with the blade ballooning slightly between them.
The blade is a shiny dark green above and paler below.
New leaves have fine hairs but these are gradually lost.

Inflorescences are paired axillary syconia (inflated and inverted receptacles) without stalks.
The globular syconia, up to around 4 cm wide are green with small pale round depressed spots and short white hairs.
There are 3 triangular basal bracts pressed tightly between the syconium and the branch.
At the tip the opening or ostiole may have 2 bracts over it as well as more bracts lining the short track through the fleshy wall.
The interior of the syconium is lined by whitish unisexual flowers.
On a tree some syconia have male and gall flowers while others have female and gall flowers.

All flowers have 2 or 3 perianth lobes.
Male flowers have one stamen with 2 prominent ovate pollen sacs.
Gall flowers are sterile female flowers on a long stalk or pedicel and with a short style.
Female flowers are on a much shorter stalk but with a longer style with a feathery stigma that reaches up between the gall flowers.

Female wasps, carrying pollen from another syconium transfer it to the stigmas of the fertile female flowers.
As her ovipositor is too short to reach the ovaries of the fertile female flowers she lays her eggs in the gall flower ovaries.
The mature fruit are spherical figs 2 to 5 cm across with short hairs and containing multiple small achenes each with a single seed.