Worldwide, there are 750 species of Ficus and about 45 native species in Australia.
Figs are unique in that the flower is enclosed inside the fruit. If you break a fig open you will notice hundreds of tiny florets.
These tiny flowers need to be pollinated and figs have developed a unique relationship with particular species of wasps.
Figs are only pollinated by fig wasps and they, in turn, can only reproduce inside fig flowers.
For most species of fig there is only one species of wasp that will pollinate it.
When the female wasp has been impregnated by the male she flies off to another fig tree,carrying pollen from the original fruit.
An interesting adaptation of fig trees is the aerial roots.
Fig trees often grow in nutritionally-depleted soil, or begin their life by germinating in rocky crevices.
Aerial roots grow down from branches and take up nutrients and moisture from the air.
Eventually the roots grow into the ground.
They thicken up and become what is commonly called ‘buttress’ roots.
These strong aerial roots support the branches. Clarence says, They make for some amazing structures and shapes.
Some species of fig trees can grow so large it can appear as though one tree is many.
The Moreton Bay fig native to parts of Australia and Lord Howe Island, is one such species and Clarence says,
There was an old tree on Lord Howe Island that covered an area of over one hectare.
The seeds of most fig trees need to find a host where they can germinate.
Sometimes this is in a rocky crevice or wall, and sometimes it’s on another tree.
Clarence finds a strangler fig that has germinated about half-way up a melaleuca tree.
The strangler fig is taking over the melaleuca which will eventually die .