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Common names: Moreton Bay Fig, Australian Banyan
Taxonomic name: Ficus macrophylla
Uses: Shade, food
Area of origin: Eastern Australia
Warnings: The sap can cause irritation in susceptible individuals.
I wasn’t sure whether to put this as a Bushfood because it is an Australian plant. I decided against it because the beautiful trees that line our rivers and roads were bought to our area by Europeans. That’s why I decided to include it under Wild foods and medicines. Of course, the Aboriginal folk who live in its natural range will have many uses for it but our focus is here, locally.
Moreton Bay Figs can be huge. That’s why they were used as shade trees around areas of Adelaide and along the South Para River here in Gawler. Their great trunks and spreading canopies can shade and shelter large areas, especially as they interlock with others nearby.
One of the things Moreton Bay Figs are famous for is their huge, buttress roots that sprawl over and into the ground. They can be very thick and provide a nice place to sit and watch the birds on a hot day. Kids love to play in on and around them too.
Don’t look for any flowers, at any time of the year. These are fig trees and the fruit is the flowers. Figs are inside out inflorescences that contain both male and female flowers which ripen at different times. How’s that for complicated?. They are pollinated by tiny Fig Wasps that live in them.
From a foraging perspective, Moreton Bay Figs provide a huge amount of fruit. These figs are kind of dry and don’t have a great taste, they’re full of seeds too. What makes them useful is the huge amount of them that a tree produces over a long part of the year. Better than eating them fresh is the delicious Moreton Bay Fig jam that our friend John makes. Delicious!