Ficus polita, the heart-leaved fig or wild rubber fig becomes a large tree, growing to heights of 10 m to 16 m with characteristic widely spreading crowns (SA Tree List No 59).
The species distribution is widespread in tropical Africa; only the most southerly part of it occurring in northern KwaZulu-Natal coastal and dune forests. The tree also grows on Madagascar where a different wasp species pollinates it than on the African continent.
This tree (and saplings of some other Ficus species) may start off as epiphytes when seeds germinate up in forks of host trees and not in the ground. The thin, young roots then find their way down at the rate supported by young leaf growth, capable of feeding them. As the tree matures, it strangles its host, as often happens to the doers of good deeds, purportedly bound to be punished.
Clusters of short-stalked figs grow on warty dwarf branchlets of the main stems and trunk. The sometimes hairy figs become up to 4 cm in diameter, turning yellowish green to purplish green as they mature. There may be figs from spring through to the onset of the following winter upon these trees.
Subsp. polita is the only subspecies of F. polita occurring in South Africa (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Pooley, 1993).