Sunday, November 24, 2013

Binomen Art – Ficus

Left: Ficus Spelled in its Small Brown Berries; Right: Ficus microcarpa, Indian Laurel, Branches
Ficus Spelled in its Small Brown BerriesFicus microcarpa, Indian Laurel, Branches
In this installment of Binomen Art, we’ll spend a little time with Ficus microcarpa, known by many names, but we always just call it, Indian Laurel. This particular specimen is over 30 years old and it is massive. As I was listening to the fruits (figs, right?) falling from the tree and rolling down the roof, the idea hatched to pay a small ode to this majestic tree. We spelled out the generic name Ficus with the brown fruits, on the base of the tree. The fruits on the tree are small, yellowish-green, rounded, and at the end of branches. The specific epithet, microcarpa, refers to the small fruit, which is claimed to be not edible.

What’s interesting, is that many pictures of F. microcarpa that you might find, show “aerial roots” - technically adventitious prop roots – growing down from the branches to the ground. However, you don’t see prop roots in the Indian Laurels in Southern California, like this one in the Imperial Valley. Likely, this is specific variety that doesn’t have that behavior, or the conditions are not right, being too dry.

The generic name, Ficus, according to the Quattrocchi is from the:

Latin ficus, i, and ficus, us for a fig-tree, Ficus carica L. or the edible fruit of the fig-tree, Greek sykon “fig”, Akkadian piqu or siqu “narrow”, piaqum, siaqum “to be narrow”…

If Quattrocchi is reaching back to Akkadian, you know this tree has roots.

Left: F. microcarpa Berries on the Branch; Right: Ficus in Berries
F. microcarpa Berries on the BranchFicus in Berries
Left: Ficus on the Root; Right: Indian Laurel in the Morning Light
Ficus on the Root Indian Laurel in the Morning Light

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