The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Natal Fig

Afrikaans name: Natalvy

Natal Fig tree in the picnic area at Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

Natal Fig in Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

Ficus natalensis

The Natal Fig is also called the Coastal Strangler Fig. They can grow to a height of 20 metres. This tree is found in a variety of forests and woodland. It occurs from Port Elizabeth through Kwazulu-Natal and also the entire north-eastern area of South Africa.

The fruits are found growing along the stems on short stalks which are about 7 mm in length. They are plus-minus 10 mm in diameter, orangey-red and hairless. Sometimes the tree gets two crops of figs in a year. When in fruit the tree attracts a lot of birds and bats. Woodpeckers and Barbets often make their nest holes in the soft wood. The Natal Fig is favoured by the beautiful Common Fig-tree Blue Butterfly. They lay their eggs in the tree and the resulting caterpillars go on an eating spree, mainly feeding on the leaves of the tree.

Leaves of a Natal Fig tree

Photo © Steven Herbert

Natal Figs can be grown from seeds and cuttings. They are popular in coastal gardens but be careful not to plant them too close to building, swimming pools and walls! The roots spread widely in search of water to sustain this tree. Another potential problem is the mess made by the masses of figs that will fall to the ground.

Bark of a Natal Fig tree

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

Trees of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Keith Coates Palgrave - Published: 2002 - Page: 146

The Natal Bushveld - Volume 1 - Author: Natal Parks Board - Published: 1981 - Page: 33

Trees of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Keith Coates Palgrave - Published: 2002 - Page: 138

Trees of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Keith Coates Palgrave - Published: 2002 - Page: 145

The Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei - Author: Elsa Pooley - Published: 1994 - Page: 74

Piet van Wyks Field Guide to the Trees of the Kruger National Park - 1st edition - Author: Piet van Wyk - Published: 1988 - Page: 29

Kruger - Portrait of a National Park - Author: David Paynter with Wilf Nussey - Published: 1986 - Page: 29

Garden Birds in South Africa - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 2017 - Page: 168

Common Trees of the Highveld - Author: Drummond & Coates Palgrave - Published: 1973 - Page: 67

Field Guide to the Trees of the Kruger National Park - 5th edition - Author: Piet van Wyk - Published: 2008 - Page: 29

A Field Guide to the Trees of Southern Africa - Author: E. Palmer - Published: 1983 - Page: 92


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