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The beloved Moreton Bay fig

Moreton Bay figs are a part of many Queenslander’s childhood memories. Who didn’t, as a child, play hide and seek around the enormous buttressed roots of these trees in a public park or garden? And then there is the memorable sound of bats squabbling over the ripe figs in warm summer evenings.

Moreton Bay figs: Fun facts

The Moreton Bay fig, otherwise known as the Australian banyan (Ficus macrophylla) grows to an enormous size. Mature trees can reach 60 m (200 feet) in height, and they are also very broad and spreading. Trees will often be even wider than they are tall. Moreton Bay figs have large, leathery, dark green leaves, and edible figs that are about 2 cm in diameter, turning from green to purple as they ripen. The tree fruits all year round, but especially from February to May.

This huge tree is an evergreen rainforest plant that grows in such forests as a strangler vine. Its seeds land in a branch of a host tree and send aerial “strangler” roots down the trunk of the host. These eventually kill the host, leaving the Moreton Bay fig to stand alone.

Every tree grows male and female flowers, which are pollinated by a special species of insect.

Moreton Bay fig: A Queensland native

This majestic tree is native to eastern Australia, as the name suggests, being named after our very own Moreton Bay. In its natural range, it is found from the Wide Bay–Burnett region all the way south to the Illawarra in New South Wales. It is also found on Lord Howe Island, a very isolated island in the Pacific about 1700 km from Sydney.

If you travel to Victoria, you might see some figs that have been planted in that state, but they don’t grow as big down there as they prefer a warm climate.

Growing your own Moreton Bay fig

If you have the space, a Moreton Bay fig would be stunning for your land. But space is certainly essential to make the most of these giants of trees. They will reward you with ample shade and the beauty of their spreading, buttressed trunk. However, their aggressive root system means you can’t plant them near pipes or building foundations.

This coastal tree will tolerate salty winds and dry, sandy soil.

And if you live in an apartment, don’t despair. You can always pick up a bonsai version from a nursery.

For the rest of us, we can enjoy the many large old trees that are protected by local governments with heritage listing in public spaces like Eagle Street, the Botanic Gardens and New Farm Park.

For all advice and services about your Moreton Bay fig, contact AllRound Tree Services today.

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