Ficus macrophylla, the Australian Banyan or Moreton Bay Fig, is a gigantic evergreen tree that belongs to the same scientific group as the common fig. This tree is native to eastern Australia, where Moreton Bay is located and from which the common name of the tree is derived.
A Forest Giant
When grown in a large planter, the Moreton Bay Fig can be an ornamental bush you can place in your garden. However, if you plant it in the open, it can grow enormously up to a height of 60 m (200 ft). Not surprisingly, the Moreton Bay Fig is actually a rainforest tree that grows large when uninhibited. With its massive roots freely spreading alongside its broad canopy, a single Moreton Bay Fig tree can easily be mistaken as an accumulation of many trees.
The Moreton Bay Fig has distinct buttress roots that can spread as wide as the tree’s height. This prominent root system indicates that the tree is shallow-rooted, a typical feature of trees in a nutrient-deficient environment. Buttress roots allow the tree to search and gather more nutrients as well as support the tree so it doesn’t topple over.
Large Leather-like Leaves
It is an undeniable observation that the Moreton Bay Fig has long large leaves. In fact, the species name macrophylla comes from the Ancient Greek words makros and phyllon meaning “large leaf.” The individual leaves are oval to elliptical, ranging from 15 to 30 cm (6–12 in) in length. Each leaf has a characteristic leathery appearance due to their glossy deep-green texture and rusty brown underside.
Fruits and Flowers
Moreton Bay Fig fruits turn from yellow to purple when they are ripe. They range from 20-25 mm in diameter, but they are mostly made of gritty seeds, and although the fruits are edible and sweet, they are dry and not very palatable. Nonetheless, many species of birds like pigeons and parrots eat the fruit.
Fig flowers, on the other hand, have a rather interesting story. Both male and female flowers are tiny. They are produced inside the fruit, where tiny fig wasps pollinate them. In turn, the Moreton Bay Fig female flowers act like a womb for the fig wasps to reproduce.
Should You Plant a Moreton Bay Fig Tree in Your Backyard?
Unless you have an extremely huge outdoor space, the Moreton Bay Fig is not an ideal addition to your suburban garden, nor is it recommended as a street tree. As mentioned, this tree needs ample growing space due to its enormous size. On top of that, the Moreton Bay Fig also has a reputation for having aggressive buttress roots that can spread over distances and damage pavements, pipelines and other structures.
Nevertheless, the Moreton Bay Fig can be an attractive element in parks and wide outdoor spaces. Its dense and wide-spreading canopy can offer a full shade for people who want to rest and hide from the summer heat. Some of the largest specimens of the tree can be found in famous botanical gardens in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne.
Cultivation and Maintenance of Moreton Bay Fig Tree
The Moreton Bay Fig is a long-lived evergreen tree that can last for more than 150 years. It can adapt to a range of soils, with a preference for moist or well-drained soil. As much as having ample space is quintessential to the Moreton Bay Fig, having full sun exposure is also vital for the tree’s growth.
The Moreton Bay Fig can withstand salty winds in coastal areas. They can also tolerate light frosts, but they cannot tolerate temperatures below -3 degrees Celsius.
Tree and Garden Expert in Sydney
If you need any help with your Moreton Bay Fig or any other trees in your yard, Trees Down Under has the best tree experts in Sydney you can consult with. No matter how big or tall your trees are, our team of highly certified arborists will know what to do with it. Whether you need a tree removal job, tree pruning, or other tree services, Trees Down Under has got it all.
Contact us now at 0475 463 597 or fill in our easy contact form, so we can provide you with the perfect solution to your tree and garden needs.