Ficus lutea, the giant-leaved fig, is a large, spreading, deciduous tree reaching 25 m in height (SA Tree List No 61). It grows on the Transkei and KwaZulu-Natal coasts in evergreen and riparian forests and widespread in tropical Africa.
The short, buttressed (and strangler) trunk has dark grey bark that becomes rough, initially from shallow longitudinal fissuring and transversal ridges as in the photo; later much coarser and dark upon main stems.
The large leaves are crowded near branch tips. Leaf shape is ovate or elliptic to oblong with rounded tip and rounded or lobed base. The leaves have a shiny green colour. The pale yellow leaf midrib and ascending lateral veins protrude on the lower surface, the net-veining distinct. Bud sheaths appearing in spring upon the bare branchlets are bronze-coloured before the new, bright green foliage emerges.
One or two figs grow from a leaf axil, stalkless and up to 2,5 cm in diameter. The figs are often furry and yellow in colour, giving the tree its specific name of lutea meaning yellow in Latin (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Pooley, 1993).