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FIDDLE LEAF FIG

Ficus lyrata

Ficus lyrata is a species of evergreen tropical tree native to the tropical lowlands of western Africa (Sierra Leone to Cameroon). Belonging to the fig family, Moraceae, it is known as the Fiddle Leaf Fig due to its leaves being the size and shape of fiddles. It is extremely sensitive to environmental conditions, and like most figs is cold-sensitive. Fiddle Leaf Figs are a tricky, but rewarding houseplant to keep. They are tempermental, and show signs of any distress by dropping leaves. However, their beauty abounds.

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The family Moraceae is a family of shrubs, trees, and lianas, all of which will bleed a latexy sap upon wounding. This latexy sap is a deterrent against herbivory, and is made up of numerous alkaloids. These alkaloids may trigger an allergic reaction in those sensitive to latex, or have a latex allergy. Members of this family exhibit foliar polymorphisms - leaf shapes will be different for different stages of life. This is a fairly odd characteristic, as most other plants make the same leaf shapes throughout their lives. Leaves are alternately arranged. Fruits of this family are multiple fruits, and are enclosed by either swollen sepals, receptacles, or both. Edibles plants of Moraceae include mulberry, breadfruit, and figs. Mulberries are also the only host and food for the silk moth, and are essential for producing silk.

Plants of genus Ficus are hemiepiphytes or strangler plants. Their fruits are eaten by birds, and the seeds are deposited in the canopy of the forest, in other tree branches, where they germinate. As the plant grows, the roots find their way to the forest floor, where they eventually penetrate the soil, and form a terrestrial root system. As the roots get bigger, they fuse to form a pseudo-trunk. Constriction, shading and root competition will eventually strangle the host tree and the strangler plant will develop into a free standing large tree with a hollow center, as the host rots away.