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Products > Ficus auriculata
Ficus auriculata - Roxburgh Fig

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Moraceae (Mulberrys)
Origin: India (Asia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Insignificant
Bloomtime: Not Significant
Synonyms: [Ficus roxburghii]
Height: 15-20 feet
Width: 15-25 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Ficus auriculata (Roxburgh Fig) - An evergreen to semi-deciduous, spreading, large shrub or small tree reaching 25 feet tall and as wide with large ova- shaped leaves as large as 15 inches in diameter. The new growth is a deep coppery-red color that matures to light green. Large rounded figs 3 inches wide by 1 inch tall form in clusters on the trunk and larger branches (cauliflorous) and remain on the plant for extended periods. It performs best in full sun in a wind protected area. Water deeply and infrequently. It is hardy to about 25 degrees F. Our large tree in the nursery froze back to hard wood in the devastating freeze of 1990 when temperatures dropped in our location to 18°F. Likely we would have lost this plant but it was adjacent to our heated greenhouse where it received some protection from its proximity to this structure. This plant has an extensive range from India east to Nepal, China, and Southeast Asia where its figs are considered edible and quite delicious. The fruit is eaten fresh or added to pineapple juice for a refreshing drink. In California it has been our observation that the fruit remains fairly dry and pithy, and while we have tried eating it many times, we find it quite inedible. The famous American botanist David Fairchild (1869 - 1954) for whom the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden was named wrote in 1927 about a Ficus auriculata (then F. roxburghii) that he had seen at the Oratava on Tenerife in the Canary Islands and also later at the Alligator Farm in Florida in The Journal of Heredity. He noted that Don Juan Bolinaga, the Director of the botanic garden had told him that one needed to fertilize or at least “stimulate” the flowers on the inside of the developing fruit to make it ripen and become edible. Later Fairchild wrote in the Florida State Horticultural Journal of 1944 that he attempted repeatedly to do this without success and later determined that without a particular wasp, a species of Blastophaga, that naturally pollinates this plant, the fruit would remain inedible. Ficus auriculata (as F. roxburghii) was an introduction into California by Francisco Franceschi at his Santa Barbara nursery. Peter Riedel ("Plants for Extra-tropical Regions" - published after Riedel's death in 1957) documents this introduction in 1909 by Franceschi with a subsequent introduction by the US Bureau of Plant Industry (USDA) in 1928 (BPI-#76755-1928). There was not a comparison made of the two accessions. Riedel further noted that there was a large tree on the grounds of UCLA in 1935. The genus name Ficus comes from the ancient Latin name for figs and their edible fruit and the specific epithet comes from the Latin word 'auricular', a diminutive of 'auris' meaning "the ear" in reference to the large rounded lobes of the leaves that resemble an ear.  The information on this page is based on our research that has been conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in the nursery, in the nursery's garden, and in other gardens where it has been observed. We also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that might aid others in growing  Ficus auriculata.