Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Ann. Mus. Bot. Lugd.-Bat. 3: 295 (1867).
False sycomore (En). Faux sycomore (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Ficus vogeliana is distributed from Guinea east to Uganda and south to Angola.
In Sierra Leone the bole is made into canoes. The wood is suitable for carpentry. Wood ash is used for soap-making. The figs are eaten. The bark is made into cloth, and in Côte d’Ivoire a special cultivar (‘Bofuain Banzo’) is grown for this purpose. In Sierra Leone the bark is recorded to be used for dyeing cloth. Bark extracts are drunk as a laxative and emetic, and for the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery. A bark decoction is used to induce vomiting. An infusion of the bark, root or leaf is used as a wash for leprosy. The figs and latex are applied to wounds, whereas juice or latex is also applied to flea blisters. In Cameroon Ficus vogeliana is retained as a shade tree when land is cleared for cocoa production.
The reddish wood has a beautiful figure, the texture is coarse. The wood is lightweight (density about 400 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content) and soft.
Tree up to 20 m tall; bole up to 90 cm in diameter, with buttresses; outer bark greyish green, inner bark reddish; young branches hairy. Leaves spirally arranged, almost distichous, simple; stipules 1–2 cm long, persistent for some time; petiole 0.5–5.5 cm long, hairy; blade broadly elliptical to obovate or oblong, 5–22 cm × 2.5–11(–12.5) cm, base cordate to truncate, apex acuminate, margin toothed to almost entire, upper surface rough, sparsely hairy, lower surface often hairy on main veins only, pinnately veined with 5–9 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a fig, the flowers enclosed within, figs on massive leafless branches up to 10 m long arising from the base of the bole (with the figs in the litter) or on usually short branchlets on the trunk up to the main branches, mostly depressed globose, 2–3 cm in diameter, minutely hairy, red to orange-red at maturity, often with yellowish to white spots; peduncle 0.5–1.5 cm long. Flowers unisexual, sessile; male flowers with 3-lobed perianth and 2 stamens; female flowers with 2–4 tepals, 1-celled ovary and short or long style. Fruit an ellipsoid to ovoid drupe c. 1 mm long, 1-seeded, developing within the fig.
The figs are pollinated by the wasp Ceratosolen acutatus.
Ficus comprises about 750 species, with about 100 species in Africa, 500 species in tropical Asia and Australia and 150 species in tropical America.
Ficus vogeliana occurs in evergreen forest in moist, swampy or periodically flooded locations up to 1200 altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
With its large distribution area, there are no indications that Ficus vogeliana is threatened by genetic erosion.
Ficus vogeliana is a multipurpose tree providing a range of products for local use. Although it is widely distributed in tropical Africa, it does not seem to be much used as a source of timber. Little is known on its wood properties, but in view of its limited use today and the poor wood properties of other Ficus spp., its importance as a source of timber is unlikely to increase.
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Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2008. Ficus vogeliana (Miq.) Miq. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.