Ficus abutilifolia is a deciduous tree of South Africa with a spreading round crown and roots which often grow over rocks. The distribution of this tree stretches from Tanzania in the North to Kwa-Zulu Natal in the South. It has a moderate growth rate and can reach a mature height of 10m. F. abutilifolia can tolerate light frost, temperatures below 1˚C or lower can kill this tree.
All parts of the large leaved rock fig secrete a non-toxic white latex. Leaves are alternate, simple and heart shaped, hairy especially on veins. This tree produces edible fruits from September to March. Its bark is cream in colour and flakes on older branches and stems. The trunk of this tree is usually twisted, branchlets are smooth and are marked with leaf scars.
It attracts a wide variety of birds to the garden hence it’s a very useful tree to have in a wildlife garden. Ficus abutilifolia has an aggressive root system and should be planted far away from buildings, paved areas and swimming pools. The large leaved rock fig can be used as an accent plant in the garden on the lawn or when planted near a group of rocks. It is also known to be a good choice for bonsai.