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Desert Fig

Bush Food / Bush Tucker - Central Australia

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Flora of Central Australia

Desert Fig (Ficus brachypoda)

Interchangeably called Desert Fig, Native Fig and Rock Fig is a spreading shrub or tree up to 8 m in height with smooth pale grey bark, and found growing on or near rock. Usually a tree of the tropic, this species has adapted to dry conditions and are found in gorges and other sheltered areas. The roots of the figs can penetrate half a kilometre into rock crevices in search of moisture. The broad, evergreen leaves have a skin which is glossy on one side, to reflect the sun's heat, and thick, to cut down water loss by evaporation.

This species consists of plants with various hair types and was previously described under F. platypoda and F. obliqua. Those plants found growing in the arid areas of its range tend to have leaves that are smaller, narrower, thicker and more leathery.

The fig in Central Australia were an important part of Aboriginal diet and such that the trees and where they grow were often regarded as sacred. The figs were were eaten raw or dried and ground into a paste and eaten with water or honey. Early European settlers sometimes gathered the ripe red fruit to make jam.

The Rock Fig can be found growing in gorges and rocky escarpment throughout Central Australia, northern parts of Western Australia, the Top End and outback Queensland, especially where there is water, even if it is deep underground.

Extreme care must be taken when identifying edible food plants and those used in bush medicine. Some bush foods are only edible at different stages of the plant cycle, or when treated appropriately. Bush medicine should only be used under the guidance of a qualified physician. Information here is only provided for research. You should always seek experts in the field to confirm the identification of the plant and whether they are edible or appropriate.

Flora Images — Desert Fig / Native Fig / Rock Fig

Bush Food Plants in Central Australia
Desert Fig — Images from Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park.

Native Fig / Rock Fig (Ficus brachypoda)

Native Fig / Rock Fig (Ficus brachypoda)

Desert Fig — Images from Uluru in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Native Fig (Ficus brachypoda) - Ulu<u>r</u>u-Kata Tju<u>t</u>a National Park

Native Fig (Ficus brachypoda) - Ulu<u>r</u>u-Kata Tju<u>t</u>a National Park

More information can be seen in the Flora section on the Ficus and Ficus brachypoda - Rock Fig
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