fig trees are so common in hong kong. but actually i haven’t written about these two species before. since i have been attracted by these two handsomes lately, let me spent a little time to introduce them to all.
印度榕 rubber fig (ficus elastica)
高山榕 council tree (ficus altissima)
before starting on the trees, i have to add an introduction of their ‘home’ because i believe the living conditions determine the life and death let alone the form (in this case they both look gorgeous) of the species.
sandy bay road enjoys a very nice neighbourhood. it has sandy bay in front and hills and foliage around. many medical and healthcare institutions chose to base here in the southern district since the mid of last century. in fact these two trees are each standing in front of one of these facilities.
climbing strongly and graphically at the wire fence is an indian rubber outside the duchess of kent children’s hospital.
indian rubber is definitely having a dominating presence. as many kinds of fig trees are good strangler, i found indian rubber’s ‘skill’ is different from chinese banyan’s. the latter like to twist and go down deep, indian rubber like going horizontally. its aerial roots are more masculine and growing fast.
the highlight of indian rubber apart from its stately roots is definitely its leaves. they are big broad shiny, deep green when mature and oval in shape. young leaves develop inside sheaths amazingly pink or red in colour. these sheaths will drop off when the leaves mature.
this tree is native to south asia. there is certainly a reason for “rubber” in its common name, it yields a milky white latex that in the past people used to make rubber. however it cannot compare to the latex/rubber being used for modern days industrial and commercial purpose, that comes from another different species.
on the other side of the road, outside hong kong red cross john f. kennedy centre is a council tree. this evergreen is native to guangdong. from the built one can tell it is an old enough tree. even though i cannot trace the age so far, one thing for sure to state is that the gate is definitely much younger than the tree. really appreciate the effort of the centre to make room for the roots when they built this entrance gate.
from far, the council tree and indian rubber share some similarities. both have beautiful looking aerial and buttress roots and big broad leaves. but if you look closely, there are differences you can easily tell. council tree has smooth barks and trunks and it bores lovely orange figs in pairs and are in the axils of the leaves.
one note to add, council tree’s flower and fruit time usually start in spring. wondering if this is another example of the effect of global warming.
anyhow, let’s focus on the beauty of these trees. i simply think that the root of this council tree is a nature sculpture masterpiece.
印度榕 indian rubber (ficus elastica): kingdom – plantae 植物界 | (unranked): angiosperms 被子植物門 | (unranked): eudicots 雙子葉植物綱 | (unranked): rosids | order: rosales 薔薇目 | family: moraceae 桑科 | tribe: ficeae | genus: ficus 榕屬 | subgenus: urostigma 榕亞屬 | species: f.elastica 印度榕 source: wiki
高山榕 council tree (ficus altissima): kingdom – plantae 植物界 | (unranked): angiosperms 被子植物門 | (unranked): eudicots 雙子葉植物綱 | (unranked): rosids | order: rosales 薔薇目 | family: moraceae 桑科 | tribe: ficeae | genus: ficus 榕屬 | species: f.altissima 高山榕 source: wiki