Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
, commonly known as , benjamin fig or ficus tree, and often sold in stores as just ficus, is a species
of flowering Plant in the family Moraceae, native to Asia and Australia. It is the official tree of Bangkok. A recently described variety, Ficus benjamina
is found in uplifted coral forests of southern Taiwan. The species is also naturalized in the West Indies and in the states of Florida and Arizona in the United States. In its native range, its small fruit are favored by some birds, such as the superb fruit dove, wompoo fruit dove, pink-spotted fruit dove, ornate fruit dove, orange-bellied fruit dove, Torresian imperial pigeon, and purple-tailed imperial pigeon.
Weeping Fig is an evergreen tree with a dense, wide crown; it can grow 15 - 30 metres tall. The bole can be 30 - 60cm in diameter. The plant usually begins life as an epiphyte, growing in the branch of another tree; as it grows older it sends down aerial roots which, when they reach the ground quickly form roots and become much thicker and more vigorous. They supply nutrients to the fig, allowing it to grow faster than the host tree. The aerial roots gradually encircle the host tree, preventing its main trunk from expanding, whilst at the same time the foliage smothers the foliage of the host. Eventually the host dies, leaving the fig to carry on growing without competition.
The tree is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of fibre plus a low quality wood. It is very ornamental, being widely cultivated in the tropics and subtropics and used as an avenue and shade-providing tree. It has long been an extremely popular indoor houseplant because of its attractive shape and tolerance for a variety of growing conditions, usually growing 60 - 300cm tall in the pot. The plant is grown as a pioneer species in reforestation projects in Thailand
Its latex and some fruit extracts are used by indigenous communities to treat skin disorders, inflammation, piles, vomiting, leprosy, malaria, nose-diseases and cancer besides the use as a general tonic. The plant is also used as antimicrobial, antinociceptive, antipyretic, hypotensive and anti-dysentery remedy.
The bark of the root, the root itself, and the leaves are boiled in oil and applied on wounds and bruises. The pounded leaves and bark are applied as a poultice in the treatment of rheumatic headaches.