Another Green meme

This time from Jennifer (ponderosa).

Think of the plants (trees, flowers, etc) which grow within 50 yards of your home. Which is your favorite?

Port Jackson Fig, Ficus rubiginos. This is a big tree (as tall as our three story house) that grows in our very tiny backyard (big enough for two cars to park in if you jammed them in). We have a love hate relationship with this tree. It’s a beautiful tree (heritage listed!) but one that sheds leaves, fruit, and (because the tree is there) bat droppings all over our backyard all year round. Not our treeThe picture isn’t our tree, but shows how this tree loves to grow out of rocks, and the side of walls. There’s a little one trying to grow out of our neighbour’s garage wall, which will cause some damage eventually.
Is any portion of this plant edible in any form? Can you boil the root, eat the berries, make tea from the leaves?

I had never even thought about this before the meme, but found a link that says that the fruit is edible. Certainly the bats love it.

Can you use any portion of this plant to make something that would be truly useful for you? Alternately, can you use any portion of this plant to make something just for fun, just one time?

From the same link, aboriginal people in Sydney used it in many ways. The inner bark of many fig species was used to make twine for dilly bags and fishing nets. The timber of figs is soft and spongy and was relatively easy to work into coolamons, shields, and even dug-out canoes. Fire was also made by twirling a sharpened hardwood stick between the hands against the softer dead fig wood. The milky sap of figs was used as a natural latex to cover wounds.

Can this plant survive on the groundwater available to it, or does it need to be watered?

It survives on its own – it’s native to this area, and we’ve never watered our garden much, even before water restrictions made that difficult.
Do you see any other creatures — birds or bees or squirrels — using this plant?

I also found out from researching this post that it is pollinated by a wasp (which I didn’t know, and have never seen). The thing I like about this tree is that it is visited by fruit bats. We live on the straight line that the bats fly every night between the Botanic Gardens in the centre of Sydney and the northern suburbs, so it’s a snack stop on the way. There are often birds in it also – mynahs (not native)  and magpies.
What does this plant look like right now, during this season and at the time of day you’re writing?

It’s 20 January around 7am. It’s not flowering or fruiting at the moment. The leaves stay year round (like all Australian natives), and there aren’t any birds right now (probably because of the lack of fruit).

  2 comments for “Another Green meme

  1. January 21, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Fascinating!

    The ponderosas in my yard have a long straight trunk & the branches only start up higher than my roofline, so it’s more like having poles in the yard that a big sprawling thing like you have. This was _so_ interesting!

  2. January 24, 2007 at 4:50 am

    Fruit bats! Figs! How cool is that, even apart from all of the Native uses of the tree.

    I’m doing this meme too, but have been slow in finishing. I picked a tree, too, though. I’m wondering how many of us will do that? They are some of the most obvious and useful plants out there.

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