Port Jackson Fig
The canopy of the Port Jackson fig is broad, domed and pendulous in habit and can reach heights of 20 metres. Their leaves, which are dark green on top and rusty brown underneath, are small compared to the Moreton Bay fig but, like all figs, they have a milky sap.
Port Jackson fig fruit is arranged in opposite pairs with no stalk, and it ripens in autumn. Unlike most species, their flower occurs inside the fruit and is pollinated by a species of native wasp which spends most of its life cycle inside the fig. The adult wasp crawls over the fertile flowers cross-pollinating them before escaping from the fig through a briefly open apical pore, which is a hole in the end of the fig.
Curiously, there are at least five different varieties of the Port Jackson fig in the Parklands, each type identifiable by their different coloured foliage and the shape of the tree. Most of the older figs were grown from seed which has allowed for a large variation of genes within the species, hence the differences in the Port Jackson fig population in the Park.
There are examples of ‘twin’ specimen plantings of Port Jackson figs around the Parklands. Each ‘twin’ has been chosen to complement the other, often with one Port Jackson fig with dark coloured foliage planted next to one with foliage of a much lighter colour.
Port Jackson figs naturally grow in crevices of rocks, and examples of these trees growing in their natural habitat can be seen in Queens Park. Their roots help them to anchor to cliff faces and rock outcrops.
Many of the beautiful plantings of Port Jackson figs, and other trees in the Parklands are thanks to Joseph Maiden, who was Director of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney from 1896 -1924. He introduced many species into cultivation, both native and exotic.
Where can Port Jackson figs be seen in the Parklands?
Port Jackson figs are one of three species that make up the trees on Grand Drive, which accounts for 292 of the 950 found in the Parklands. Other examples of the Port Jackson fig can be found at Randwick Gates, the Church Grounds and Queens Park.