Ficus macrophylla

Morton bay fig

Family: Moraceae

Origin: Australia

Morton Bay Fig being held by hand to show underside of leaves.
A unique tree that starts life growing up the side of another tall tree, then takes over to envelope the host tree. Can grow up to 30m tall.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Often begins as epiphyte, then becomes large, free-standing, buttressed tree < 30 m tall. Leaves are large, < 29 x 12 cm. ‘Fruit’ is fleshy, an enclosed inflorescence (synconium) and < 4 cm in diameter.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment, from 1 September 2022, you:

  • will not be allowed to breed, distribute, release or sell Morton Bay fig within the Auckland region.
  • will not be allowed to plant Morton Bay fig within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • must destroy any Morton Bay fig on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

Habitats

Epiphytic on native and exotic tree species, especially pōhutukawa and phoenix palms, rock walls.

Dispersal

Seeds dispersed by birds and mammals.

Impact on environment

Competes with, shades and strangles native plants. Copious year-round fruiting may restructure frugivore communities and support elevated populations of vertebrate pests.

Control

Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig or pull out.
Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds and epiphytes in trees.
Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.

Biocontrol

Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with metsulfuron gel.
Basic Growsafe certified: Cut stump and spray freshly cut base with 2g metsulfuron-methyl per 1 L of water.
Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user:Drill and inject trees with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 1L of water if safe to do so. Drill 18mm holes (tangentially angled downwards) in a spiral up the trunk. For 50mm stems drill one hole. For 100mm stems drill two holes. For larger stems drill holes 150mm apart.

Safety notes

Large trees must not be drilled that are closer than 1.5 times the height of the tree from paths, walkways and property.

Trees over 4 metres in height should be removed by a qualified arborist.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Morton Bay Fig epiphyte on host tree.
Large, dark green glossy leaves form on a tree that can grow to have a very large trunk. Over time, large buttress roots form providing the tree with stability.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow