Notices for Users of the Albums

1. New Albums and some changes


The latest genera Albums added to the Operation Wildflower Site are the ones on Melianthus, Metalasia and Brabejum. This means that photos and stories of plants belonging to these genera already on the Site have been moved from the more general Albums called Shrubs and Trees into their own new Albums under Genera. 


There is a genus Album in every case where enough material has been accumulated to warrant a stand-alone grouping of photos and stories. There are now more than 160 such Albums on genera of South African plants. The biggest ones (most photos) belong to the genera Crassula, Euphorbia, Pelargonium and Aloe. Keep watching, more will be added! If there is no genus Album yet on the plant you are looking for, check under Types or the Search Box.


In order to access all items on a plant of interest, the Search Box should be used, entering the botanical name of the plant. Most photos and stories on a particular plant are likely to be posted under Genera, (or if there are only few of them, in the conglomerate categories under Types). Habitat, Regions or Parks and Gardens may also contain some material on a species searched for, showing in the list generated when using the Search Box. The latest Parks and Gardens Album is the one on the Quiver Tree Forest.


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There is a new way of communicating with the Editor of this Site regarding any of the Album Items.
Comments, questions, corrections, information and suggestions can be put to the Editor by using the following email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Please ensure that the Album Item concerned is clearly identified. Type its exact title as well as the Album Name in the Subject Line of your email. Please also state your name.


Similarly, communication regarding the functioning or technical aspects of the Site can be directed to the Webmaster at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Ficus ingens

Botanical name

Ficus ingens

Other names

Red-leaved rock fig; rooiblaarrotsvy (Afrikaans); motlhatsa (Tswana)




Variable in form and size, semi-deciduous, from a shrub in cold winter parts of its distribution range to a medium sized tree of up to 13 m in height; very large specimens do occur, like the legendary inhabited tree (17 huts in one tree above 'the lions' reach' level) described by Robert Moffatt of Kuruman from a trip in 1829

Description of stem

Multi-branched, broad and convoluted trunks twining at its bulky base, light grey, smooth bark, the base usually hugging a rock; spreading and curving branches; if allowed by other vegetation to grow freely develops a rounded crown, but usually straggling among other bushes and trees

Description of leaves

Ovate or lanceolate, green with entire margin, apex tapering, base lobed, sometimes square, variable size around 12 cm by 5 cm; petiole 2 cm; distinctive and pronounced netveining; new leaves sprouting shortly after old leaves are lost, which happens rather briskly within a week or two; new leaves pink, coppery or bronze-red for about a week, living up to the common name before gradually turning green; leaves said to be toxic

Description of flowers


Desciption of seed/fruit

Pale yellow-green round figs of slightly more than 1 cm in diameter on stalks in leaf axils in profusion; turn purple or brown-red when they ripen over a prolonged season from winter and at least throughout summer

Description of roots

Massive rock-splitting root system that is known to reach water sources some distance from the tree


Depending on the climate as it is sometimes reduced by winter cold; some leaf form variations

Propagation and cultivation

Grown from cuttings, truncheons or seed


Mildly frost resistant apart from very young plants


Good for big gardens, keep far away from buildings as it is an accomplished rocksplitter, thus be careful of it as a foundation destroyer; good as a container plant or bonsai; figs edible, but not palatable; the bark has been used to treat cows with poor milk production

Ecological rarity

Not threatened

Pests and diseases



All parts exude a milky latex when broken; the latex or the leaves are said to cause illness in livestock that may browse it in times of drought; the figs are barely edible for humans but highly popular with many bird species; every indigenous ficus species is pollinated by 'its own' species of wasp in a mutually dependent symbiotic relationship; in the case of F. ingens the pollinator wasp is Platyscapa soraria,that has co-evolved with the tree,whilst Otitesella longicauda also use it; the male wasps apparently fight hard for mating opportunities with available females (; there are big F. ingens trees at the entrance of Makapansgat


Rocky outcrops, north facing cliffs in cold winter areas, bushveld, riverine and mountainous areas

Distribution (SA provinces)

Eastern Cape; Kwazulu-Natal; Mpumalanga; Limpopo; Gauteng; North West


South Africa; Lesotho; Mozambique; Botswana; Namibia; Zimbabwe; Zambia; Malawi and north up to Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and Algeria; in West Africa across Cameroun, Nigeria, Ghana to Senegal





Ficus ingens leaves close-up; Photographed by Ricky Mauer

Ficus ingens: Photographed by Ricky Mauer



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