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Project Name Data (Last Modified On 1/22/2013)
 

Flora Data (Last Modified On 1/22/2013)
Genus FICUS [Tourn.] L.
Contributor GORDON P. DEWOLF, JR.
Synonym Ficus [Tourn.] L. Gen. Plant. ed. 5. 482. 1754. Oluntos Raf. Sylva Tell. 5 8. 18 3 8. Urostigma Gasp. Nov. Gen. Fic. 7. 1844. Pharmocosycea Miq. in Hook. Lond. Journ. Bot. 7:64. 1848.
Description A genus (at least so far as the American species are concerned) of soft-wooded, generally smooth-barked trees and shrubs with milky or opalescent latex. Many species begin life as epiphytes, or epiliths, which may eventually, through the coalescence of their roots, completely encircle the trunk of, and strangle, their host. Leaves entire and spiral in native species-rarely opposite and sometimes toothed or lobed in the Old World. Stipules long or short, enfolding the buds, generally quickly deciduous but rarely persistent, leaving a scar surrounding the stem. Flowers unisexual, borne over the inner surface of a hollow, globose, more or less fleshy structure (the receptacle or "fig") the apical pore (ostiole or orifice) of which is closed by a series of interlocking bracts. The female flowers are of two kinds: functional females, generally sessile and maturing into viable achenes, and sterile females (gall flowers), generally stalked and functioning as incubators for the larvae of a wasp which pollinates the fertile flowers. Male, female and gall flowers are completely intermixed in American species. The figs are generally solitary or paired, borne among the leaves but sometimes on specialized short shoots behind the leaves in American species. In Old World species they may be borne similarly or in leafless racemes or panicles on the trunk and larger branches.
Distribution There are about 750 species in the tropics of both hemispheres. In the American tropics the genus is represented by two subgenera (of three) and about 70 species. In addition to the native species of Panama, numerous exotics are cultivated, particularly F. elastica, F. nitida and the banyan, F. religiosa, and the root-climbing ivy-like F. pumila.
Note These usually can be distinguished by their persistent aerial and prop roots which are infrequent in the native species. The common edible fig with deeply lobed leaves, F. carica, is seldom encountered in Panama. Subgenus UROSTIGMA (Gasp.) Miq. Most species of fig are disseminated by birds which eat the more or less fleshy receptacles and wipe their beaks clean of the sticky pulp upon the branch of a convenient tree. The small seeds embedded in the pulp deposited in this way germinate epiphytically, the seedlings grasping the supporting tree with their tentacles of aerial roots which in time reach the soil. Meanwhile the woody body of the fig develops rapidly and the supporting tree eventually is destroyed by the weight of its triumphant epiphyte. For this reason the name matapalo (tree-killer) often is applied to the strangler-figs of Central America. The appropriate Spanish words higo for the fleshy receptacles and higuero for the tree are current in Panama. Subgenus PHARMACOSYCEA Miq. The Pharmacosyceas seldom, if ever, begin life as epiphytes. They are large, free-growing trees of the forest and of second growth. The subgenus was originally erected for a few American species but it is now known that about 46 Australasian species belong here as well. In any consideration of a taxonomic treatment of tropical American plants it is important to realize that botanically scarcely one quarter of tropical America has been adequately explored. Literally thousands of square miles of rainforest and campo have either never been investigated by botanists or have not been so for fifty to one hundred years. Even so, our herbaria are full of alleged species whose only claims to distinction, when they are examined critically, are the political boundaries separating them. With the exception of the West Indies, Mexico, parts of Central America and some areas in northern South America, what knowledge we have of the lowland evergreen forests seems to be restricted to the vegetation of the riverbanks. In addition, few, even of modern collectors, have bothered to make field notes-or, if they have made them, have not bothered to transcribe them onto labels to accompany their specimens. The net result is that, although there is a good deal of (literally scrappy) material in our herbaria, we can get only the most vague idea either of distribution or of variation of the species involved, and we know practically nothing of the ecology of the plants. As a final example and indict- ment, Ficus nymphaeaefolia is apparently a fairly common species from Panama to the State of Amapa in Brazil at the mouth of the Amazon. Even as tropical trees go, it must be striking in appearance. Yet the only description of this species as a living plant that I have been able to find is in Humboldt's "Personal Narrative ." of his travels in the American tropics in 1799-1804. The floral characters of American figs, unlike those of many Asian and African species are disconcertingly uniform. The precise form and structure of the fig itself is, however, particularly significant. In addition, microscopic vegetative characters have considerable taxonomic significance. These characters were first investigated by Otto Renner in 1907. More recently they have been exploited and practical techniques for their elucidation devised by Professor E. J. H. Corner, to whom I am greatly indebted for knowledge of them. Over the past three years I have been able to see nearly all of the types of American species of Ficus preserved in European herbaria. More than a year ago, I was able to present to the Board of Research Studies of the University of Cambridge a taxonomic and nomenclatural revision of the species of Ficus, proposed on the basis of allegedly American material from the time of the publication of the Species Plantarum in 1753 to the first proper taxonomic revision of the genus by Miquel in 1847-48. This involved a taxonomic study of all the species known from Brazil, northeastern South America and the West Indies, as well as a cursory survey of the species of the Andes and of Central America and Mexico. Over and above the courtesies extended to me by the directors and staffs of all institutions that I have visited or corresponded with (which will be acknowledged explicitly in a forthcoming paper), I am particularly indebted to the directors of the New York Botanical Garden and the United States National Museum, who allowed me to borrow certain specimens in their care to use as a basis for study of the taxonomy of the species. I am also in particular debt of gratitude to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences who generously made a grant to allow me to visit certain continental herbaria, to consult the types in their care. Some months ago, Dr. R. E. Woodson, Jr., hearing of my interest in the genus, sent me for comment a manuscript treatment which he had prepared for the FLORA OF PANAMA. It is a pleasure to record that, with one or two minor excep- tions, our taxonomic conclusions were identical. After some subsequent cor- respondence, Dr. Woodson asked me to prepare a fresh treatment of Ficus for the Flora. The following descriptions and synonomy are the result. I have seen little Panamanian material for any species. The descriptions are drawn from the material which I have seen, modified freely from Dr. Woodson's manuscript. The specimens cited are quoted directly from that manuscript. The nomenclature and synonymy are based (with one or two exceptions) on my own studies.
Key a. Figs borne singly in the leaf axils, the bracts at the base of fig 3 or 3-lobed; stamens 2; ovary pale, unspotted; tepals of female flowers narrowly deltoid or lanceolate; massive multicellular hairs present (X 150) on the lower surface of the leaf. (Subgenus PHARMACOSYCEA) b. Stipules 1-2 cm. long; lateral veins of the leaves 5-16; lower surface of the leaves minutely pubescent to glabrous, almost always scabrid. 1. F. MAXIMA bb. Stipules 2.5 cm. or more long. c. Leaves very broadly oval or ovate, the lateral veins 10-16, rather distant; receptacles not beaked. d. Lateral veins 9-15, departing from the midrib at an angle of 100 or less, connected by a very prominent submarginal vein.. 2. F. TONDUZII dd. Lateral veins 12-16, departing from the midrib at an angle from 100-300, the marginal vein not prominent - - , 3. F. MACBRIDEI cc. Leaves oblong-elliptic, the lateral veins 10-30, rather close; receptacles generally somewhat beaked below the ostiole. -,.,,.4. F. INSIPIDA aa. Figs borne in pairs in the leaf axils, the basal bracts 2 or 2-lobed; stamen 1; ovary with a red spot at the base of the style; tepals of all flowers hooded; massive, multicellular hairs absent, 2-cellular glandular hairs (X 1 50) frequently present on the lower surface of the leaf. (Subgenus UROSTIGMA) b. Figs cylindrical, to 20 mm. long, with densely spreading yellow- brown pubescence. ,-,,,....,.... ,,,..,,..,....,..,,..,,.5. F. POPENOEI bb. Figs more or less globose, glabrous or pubescent. c. Mature figs 3-7 mm. in diameter. d. Stipules glabrous; figs distinctly pedunculate -,-.-,-,-,, 6. F. PERFORATA dd. Stipules appressed-pubescent; figs sessile or nearly so. e. Leaves smooth above, appressed-pubescent on the veins beneath. 7. F. HARTWEGII ee. Leaves scabrid above, shortly spreading-pubescent beneath- 8. F. DENDROCIDA cc. Mature figs 8-30 mm. in diameter. d. Figs with a distinct peduncle. e. Ostiole sunken into the body of the fig or surrounded by a more or less raised collar of receptacular tissue or both. f. Figs and leaves glabrous. g. Ostiole depressed within a relatively undifferentiated cavity. - ,,---- ,,,,,-- ,,-- ,,,---- ,-9. F. PERTUSA gg. Ostiole depressed within a conspicuously elevated cylin- drical collar. ,,. ,,-.,.. ,,,.. ,.. ,,,.. ,.. ,,....,,....,,,,,,,10. F. TRACHELOSYCE ff. Figs and leaves spreading-pubescent. - .......... 11. F. BULLENEI ee. Ostiole level with the surface of the fig, or the bracts slightly umbonate. (1 88) This content downloaded on Mon, 14 Jan 2013 11:55:03 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions1960] FLORA OF PANAMA (Moraceae) 149 f. Figs 8-15 mm. in diameter, with thin wall, yellowish when ripe .......................................................... .... 12. F. C ITRIFOLIA ff. Figs 15-30 mm. in diameter, with a relatively thick wall, reddish when ripe ........................................................ 13. F. TRIGON ATA dd. Figs sessile or nearly so. e. Figs 15-30 mm. in diameter. f. Bracts at mouth of fig distinctly mammillate, to 3 mm. high, leaves oblong-oblanceolate, distinctly acuminate, base rounded, lateral veins 9-18. -.-------------------------....... 14. F. PARAENSIS ff. Bracts at mouth of fig level with the surface or only a little umbonate, leaves rotund to broadly oval or elliptic-oblong or oblanceolate, apex rounded to acuminate, base narrowly cuneate to cordate, lateral veins 4-12. g. Leaves rotund, very broadly oval or ovate, apex rounded to acuminate, the base distinctly and deeply cordate .. 15. F. NYMPHAEAEFOLIA gg. Leaves ovate to oblanceolate, apex rounded to obscurely acuminate, base cuneate or rounded, sometimes emarginate. h. Leaves ovate to oblong-elliptic, apex rounded to obscurely acuminate, base rounded to emarginate. - 13. F. TRIGONATA hh. Leaves oblanceolate to obovate, apex rounded to acute, base narrowly cuneate .-----------------------------------...16. F. OBTUSIFOLIA ee. Figs 8-14 mm. in diameter. f. Bracts at mouth of fig distinctly mammillate, to 3 mm. high, leaves oblong-oblanceolate, distinctly acuminate, base rounded, lateral veins 9-18 .---------------------------- 14. F. PARAENSIS ff. Bracts at mouth of fig level with the surface or only a little umbonate, leaves not as above, apex rounded to obscurely acuminate, base cuneate to rounded, lateral veins 5-12. g. Stipules persistent .---------------------- 17. F. COSTARICANA gg. Stipules deciduous. h. Stem at each receptacle-bearing node enlarged to form a shelf or socket on which figs are borne, basal bracts fused to the base of fig for about 5 mm. - . . 18. F. TUERCKHEIMII hh. Stem not enlarged at the nodes, basal bracts not fused to the base of the fig. i. Leaves oblong-obovate or oblanceolate. j. Stipules about 10 mm. long, figs 8-10 mm. in diameter.. 19. F. DAVIDSONAE jj. Stipules 10-30 mm. long, figs more than 10 mm. in diameter ................................................................ 16. F. OBTUSIFOLIA ii. Leaves elliptic or obovate, stipules 15-30 mm. long, figs 10-14 mm. in diameter ......................................... 13. F. TRIGONATA
 
 
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