HigueronFicus Costaricana

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Moraceae
Genus: Ficus
Species: F. costaricana

Distinction: Ficus Costaricana is most easily differentiated from other Figs by recognizing the stipule which has golden trichomes on the exterior of the synconium. It's flowers are borne directly from the stem and thus lack a petiole.

Leaves: The leaves are alternate, simple leaves that range from 5 to 8 cm and can be ovular, oblong or elliptic.

Flowers: Ficus costaricana has three types of flowers which are usually intermingled within the same plant in native species. There are female flowers with a small perianth. Fertile flowers which are sessile with a small pistil and a noticeably longer style. The third flower type is a small sterile flower with a peduncle and short style. (The flowers are located within the fruit- often a location for insect larvae to mature, in return the fully grown insects pollinate the flower)


Range: Ficus costaricana is an extremely successful autotroph that ranges from Mexico to Colombia. These plants can grow in areas both dry and wet and can be seen throughout a wide range of altitudes. (From 0-1400m)
Fruits: The accessory fruit of Ficus costaricana is an enlarged, fleshy, hollow receptacle that contains multiple ovaries on the interior surface. The fruits are generally 1-2cm in diameter. The true fruits are small achenes within the flesh, they are sessile (lack stems). The fruit contains an ostiole through which pollinators enter the fruit and gain access to the true flowers.

Ficus costaricana is considered a hemiepiphyte with multiple growth forms. It can grow as a tree and a small bush, it also grows as an epiphyte, directly on another tree, similar to its relative- the strangler fig.

Habitat: This plant can grow in dry, wet, humid and very humid locations.
Essentially it is a plant very well suited for the tropical regions of Central and South America.

Life Cycle: Due to the consistency in the tropical environment, synconia can be seen year round- providing a food source to bats, monkeys and birds.

Natural History:
Ficus costaricana is an essential plant to life in the rain forest. This plant provides incubation for insects, food for mammals and birds via its fruit and insects and monkeys regularly fee on its leaves.

Costa Rica Experience: In the field I very soon discovered that the Costaricana is very difficult to differentiate from any other strangler fig. In order to differentiate, I needed to see fruit or leaves, both of which were much too high up (if there ate all) to be observed. Luckily, I was able to encounter at least two of this species one of the trees (right) had grown around a sidewalk, splitting its roots into two different locations and then coming together to form a trunk. The other Costaricana I encountered was growing alongside a cabin (See morphology section). This fig had actually overtaken the cabin such that it was using the house as a host body and I was able to see of power of this plant's epiphytic nature.

Works Cited:

Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica - González, J. Moraceae. In: Hammel, B.E.; Zamora, N. y Grayum, M.H. (eds.). Missouri Bot. Gard. Press, St. Louis & Inst. Nac. de Biodiversidad, Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica (en preparación).

Levels of allozyme diversity in populations of uncommon Neotropical tree species- J. L. Hamrick and Darlyne A. Murawski; Journal of Tropical Ecology (1991), 7:395-399 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1991
Growth Habits, Host Tree Species, and Density of Hemiepiphytes on Barro Colorado Island, Panama- Carol Todzia Biotropica, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Mar., 1986), pp. 22-27
Phenology of fruit and leaf production by ‘strangler’ figs on Barro Colorado Island, Panamá -D. M. Windsor, D. W. Morrison, M. A. Estribi and B. de Leon; Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences Journal, Volume 45, Number 7, July 1989, p. 647-653