An evergreen or semi-deciduous tree native to Southern Africa with a distribution stretching from Senegal to South Eastern Africa. Ficus natalensis has a wide spreading crown and can reach a mature height of 30m when growing conditions are conducive. This tree can withstand very dry conditions and is able to tolerate temperatures as low as -5 degree Celsius.
The size and growth habit of the Natal fig varies widely depending on climate for instance, In the Cape this tree normally grows with a single trunk and will be smaller than its counterparts growing in subtropical regions. The leaves of the Natal Fig are elliptic are arranged spiral manner and the bark is smooth.
As the tree grows older, it produces a few to many aerial roots which are invasive making this tree only suitable for large gardens where there is a lot of space. F. natalensis produces three types of flower; male, a long-styled female and a short-styled female flower. All these three types of flowers are contained within the structure we usually think of as the fruit. Figs produced by this tree are not edible to humans, but they attract a wide variety of wildlife including birds and small insects to the garden.
In landscapes, the Natal fig is normally grown for shade, its weeping growth habit makes it a striking specimen tree for the garden. The tree is also harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of fibre. It is sometimes cultivated to provide a living fence. This tree is also suitable for bonsai.