Ficus lyrata - Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Leaves
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Leaves

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Description and Uses

Ficus lyrata, the Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, also belongs to the Ficus Great of Stranglers Genus.

This fact, however, in no way hindered its other partner and co-partner on this planet, the Homo Genus than to chasten it, using it widely as an ornamental plant.

By the presentation of the ornamental dimension of Ficus lyrata, the editorial team of ‘Kalliergeia’ deals with this article.

On the other hand, lawyers deals with the strangler one.

Meanwhile, there has been an increase in the demand for Phytiatrists – Plant Therapists (and Psychiatrists) …

Main feature and basic decorative element of the plant is its impressive leaves.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Close-up to Leaves
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Close-up to Leaves
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Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Origin

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Map of Origin
Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Map of Origin

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) – Description and Uses

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Brief Description

Family: Moraceae

Genus: Ficus

Scientific name: Ficus lyrata Warb.

Synonym: Ficus pandurata Sander

Common name(s): Fiddle Leaf Fig, Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, Fiddleleaf Fig, Banjo Fig

General Characteristics

Leaf Persistence

Evergreen

Form

Tree of Round Canopy Shape

Texture

Coarse

Growth Rate

Fast / Indoors: Moderate

Flowering Period (Tropics)

Aprill – June

Fruiting Period

Summer

Height

8-15 m (26-50 ft) Indoors: 0.90-3 m (3-10 ft)

Diameter

8-10 m (26-32 ft) Indoors: 0.90-3 m (3-10 ft)

Shapes and Colours

Leaves Shape

Obovate

Foliage Colour

Green

Autumn Foliage Colour

Green

Flowers Shape

Syconium

Flowers Colour

Green

Fruit

Fig

Plantation

Soil Type: Well-drained, sand, loam, clay

Exposure: Sun, Half-shade

Soil pH: 6-7

Watering: Moderate

Hardiness: 1.7 °C (35 °F – USDA Hardiness zone 10b)

Uses

Specimen, urban planting, highway median, bonsai, pots and containers indoor and outdoor

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) – Description and Uses

Trigla lyra Fish With the Fiddle-shaped Fins
Trigla lyra Fish With the Fiddle-shaped Fins

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Etymology

Etymology of the Genus Name

The name of the genus Ficus is the Latin name of Fig and the Fig Tree. The word comes from Ancient Greek ‘σῦκον’, which is presumed to have a Semitic origin, since Phoenician 𐤂𐤀𐤐 means ‘half-ripe fig’.

Etymology of the Species Name

The name of the lyrata species has an artistic hue since it is the New Latin version of the Ancient Greek word ‘λύρα’ – lyre, the homonymous musical instrument.

Of course, we should mention here that perhaps beyond the artistic, the word also has a gastronomic hue, since by the word ‘λύρα’ Ancient Greeks also called the delicious fish Trigla lyra, piper gurnard, a triglid fish. Apparently the name of the lyrata species, is extremely attributable to the shape of the leaves of the plant, as well as the lyra, the dorsal and abdominal fin of the piper gurnard.

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) – Description and Uses

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Origin & Life Span

Origin

Ficus lyrata‘s cradle is considered to be the tropical zone of Western and Central Africa. It is found mainly from Cameroon to Sierra Leone in the lowland rainforests and is developed in a variety of soil types and exposures. In its natural niches, the average monthly upper temperature is 30 °C (86 °F), while the average annual rainfall is between 1000 and 2000 mm.

Life Span

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree in the wild lives more than 50 to 70 years. Conversely, in captivity as an indoor plant, it lives from 10 to 20 years, while in the warmer areas of the subtropical zone, when planted in the garden, lives from 25 to 50 years.

If it could choose, it would most likely choose the first case.

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) – Description and Uses

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Morphological Elements

Ficus lyrata is an evergreen large tree of fast growth rate, when it is in the natural, with a height that often exceeds 25 m (82 ft). When grown, the annual growth rate is moderate and does not exceed 15 m high (50 ft).

It consists usually of a single trunk and a canopy of spherical or hemispherical shape, which is symmetrical with an irregular outline. Its foliage, of coarse texture, is dense, and has an upright or spreading appearance. As an indoor plant it gets significantly smaller dimentions and has rather upright appearance.

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) – Description and Uses

Ficus lyrata - Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Mature & Immature Syconiums
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Mature & Immature Syconiums

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Botanical Description

Roots

Ficus lyrata is a typical epiphyte plant. It grows on the branches of various tropical tree species and develops aerial blastogenic roots, that penetrate the soil. The aerial part of these roots becomes trunkish ‘strangling‘ the host tree.

Trunk

In its natural state it has single or many trunks and very rough bark of dark greyish brown color.

Branches & Twigs

They are spreading or upright, thick, having a redish brown color which when matured becomes greyish brown.

Leaves

The grooved petiole is thick and glabrous, with a length of between 2 and 5 cm (0.8-2 in). The lamina is large, simple and leathery, nice green in color.

The leaves are relatively thick and have a pronounced reticulate venation, consisting of a strong midrib and 8 to 10 second order veins.

Their shape is similar to a lyre or a fiddle, obovate with a pair of sinuous indentations near the base, and are mainly arranged alternately while their length being between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 in) and their width between 12 and 20 cm (4.7-7.8 in).

Flowers

The flowers are produced in the interior of an axillary inflorescence. The males consist of 2 to 3 sepals of ovate-lanceolate shape and bear a solitary stamen with ovoid anther. The females consist of 3 ovate-shaped sepals and have a short style with papillate stigma.

Pollination

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree is exclusively pollinated by the wasp Agaon spatulatum.

Fruit

The achene is the fruit of Ficus lyrata, which is within the special fleshy stem of all the Ficus, the syconium, that consists of plethora achenes.

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) – Description and Uses

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Climate and Soil

Temperature

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, as another plant of the tropical regions, is cold intolerance. The minimum temperatures, which are also the lowest tolerance limit, range between 4 and 1.7 °C (40-35 °F). With high temperatures, Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree’s behavior is excellent as it does not have particular problems. 

In its natural niches grows in areas where temperatures range from 20 °C (68 °F) the minimum and 30 °C (86 °F) or more the maximum.

Soil and pH

Ficus lyrata grows in all soil types, ranging from light sandy to heavy clay soils, provided they drain well but at the same time retain the necessary moisture. However, well-established Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees have high drought tolerance.

In terms of pH, it grows in a range of values ranging from 6 to 7, but it thrives on slightly acidic soils with values ranging from 6 to 6.5.

Exposure

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree seeks full exposure to sun and/or half-shade. When grown as an indoor plant it is recommended to place it in bright places.

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) – Description and Uses

Ficus lyrata - Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Outdoor
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Outdoor

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Pests & Diseases

Ficus lyrata is generally not affected by pests and diseases. Some (or a lot of) parasites, however, can sometimes create problems.

Pests

Immediately below are recorded the most important pests of Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree.

Various Insects
  • Aleurodicus dispersus
  • Aphis fabae
  • Dialeurodes citri (Citrus Whitefly)
  • Gynaikothrips ficorum (Laurel Thrips, Cuban Laurel Thrips)
  • Hercinothrips femoralis (Banded Greenhouse Thrips)
  • Metcalfa pruinosa (Frosted Moth-Bug)
  • Opogona sacchari (Banana Moth)
  • Parthenothrips dracaenae (Palm Thrips)
  • Toxoptera aurantii (Camellia Aphid)
  • Singhiella simplex (Fig Whitefly)
Scales
  • Ceroplastes rusci (Fig Wax Scale)
  • Coccus hesperidum (Brown Soft Scale)
  • Hemiberlesia palmae (Tropical Palm Scale)
  • Icerya seychellarum (Seychelles Scale)
  • Parasaissetia nigra (Pomegranate Scale)
Mealybags
  • Pseudococcus calceolariae (Citrophilus Mealybug)
  • Pseudococcus longispinus (Long-Tailed Mealybug)
Acari
  • Allonychus reisi
  • Tetranychus urticae (Red Spider Mite)
  • Panonychus ulmi (European Red Spider Mite)
Nematodes
  • Aphelenchoides fragariae (Strawberry Crimp Nematode) 
  • Meloidogyne incognita (Southern Root-Knot Nematode)

By using the appropriate insecticides and acaricides, their treatment is from satisfactory to difficult, except for nematodes, which are very difficult to control.

Diseases

After the pests, the recording of the diseases follows.

Fungi
  • Athelia rolfsii – syn. Sclerotium rolfsii (Southern Blight, Sclerotium Rot)
  • Botrytis cinerea (Gray Mold, Botrytis Brown Stain)
  • Corynespora cassiicola (Target Leaf Spot of Tomato)
  • Glomerella (Anthracnose)
  • Myrothecium roridum (Blight: Eggplant)
  • Phytophthora sp. (Phytophthora Root and Crown Rots, Buckeye Rot, Phytophthora Blights) 
  • Phomopsis sp. (Twig Dieback)
  • Pythium sp. ( Pythium Root and Stem Rot)
  • Rhizoctonia solani (Belly Rot)
Bacteria
  • Agrobacterium tumefaciens (Crown Gall)
  • Pseudomonas cichorii
  • Xanthomonas campestris (Bacterial Leaf Spot)

By using the appropriate fungicides the treatment of the former is from satisfactory to difficult, while the bacterium of the plant is extremely difficult to control.

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) – Description and Uses

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Toxicity & Allergenicity

Toxicity

Ficus lyrata is not toxic to humans and pets as long as they do not come into contact with the milky sap. In this case, skin irritation or rash may occur.

Allergenicity

People with a history of asthma are likely to develop allergic reactions, when the sap get on dust particles and fly throughout the house or office.

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) – Description and Uses

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Varieties & Cultivars

The most widespread ornamental form of the plant is that of the typical species. However, Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree does not lack cultivars and varieties.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Varieties

Ficus lyrata ‘Suncoast

It is a variety that is more tolerant to cold than the typical species. The minimum temperature at which it can be exposed without damage is -1,1 °C (30 °F). In terms of dimensions, it reaches the height of 3 to 4 m (9-12 ft) while its diameter varies between 2 and 3 m (6-9 ft).

Varieties of Ficus lyrata - Ficus lyrata 'Suncoast'
Ficus lyrata 'Suncoast'

Ficus lyrata Compacta

As its name implies, it has a compact appearance. It is a slower growth rate than the typical species, which means that transplantation needs to be done in less time. Its dimensions, if planted outdoors, are 8 to 10 m (26-32 ft) in height and 6 to 8 m (20-26 ft) in diameter.

Varieties of Ficus lyrata - Ficus lyrata ‘Compacta’
Ficus lyrata ‘Compacta’

Ficus Lyrata Bambino

Extremely compact variety derived from natural mutation of the parent plant, which was grown in the Dutch De Wilgenlei nursery. Its leaves are more obovoid in shape than that of the Lyra, while their dimensions range from 14 to 21 cm (5.5-8.2 in) in length, with a width of 13 to 18 cm (5-7 in).

Varieties of Ficus lyrata - Ficus Lyrata ‘Bambino’
Ficus Lyrata ‘Bambino’

Ficus lyrata ‘Variegated

This is a highly decorative variety with leaves that have yellow-creamy edges. It is also of a slow growth rate.

Varieties of Ficus lyrata - Ficus Lyrata 'Variegated'
Ficus Lyrata 'Variegated'

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) – Description and Uses

Ficus lyrata - Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Indoor
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Indoor

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - Use

Use as Indoor Plant

And Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree is one of the most popular plants for decorating the interior of both homes and professional spaces. Its impressive large leaves and the relative ease of maintenance advocate it. What they do not advocate is its use as a plant that filters and purifies the air. That writing or saying about such a kind of use is scientifically totally unfounded.

Use in Garden and Landscape

In areas suitable for its growth, it can be planted both on the ground and in pots at sunny or half-shade exposures.

So, it could be said that Ficus lyrata is being exploited:

  • As a srhub of particular interest planted alone
  • In urban plantings of parks, highways median and streets without sidewalk as it withstands the overwhelming atmosphere of the cities
  • As a shade tree

In combination with other more or less exotic plants such as Crotons (Codiaeum variegatum), Gardenia Bushes (Gardenia jasminoides), Dwarf Powderpuff (Calliandra emarginata) and Star Jasmine (Jasminum nitidum)

Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) - References

The References of the musical tone article entitled Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree) – Description and Uses (… and Psychiatrist’s taking sick leave) are presented by the band Talking Heads with their song Psycho Killer.

Play Video
  1. Bajaj, Y. (2010). Trees III.Berlin: Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg GmbH & Co.
  2. Burrows, J. E., & Burrows, S. (2003). Figs of southern & south-central Africa. Hatfield, South Africa: Umdaus Press.
  3. Kunkel, G. (1978). Flowering Trees in Subtropical Gardens. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

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