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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ficus microcarpa nitida - Indian Laurel

I was pretty surprised to run into my first specimen(s) of the Indian Laurel in SC yesterday. Was looking at something else across the street and what I though was a heavily pruned Carob Tree had the wrong bark. I am not sure why they are rarely planted as they grow rapidly and usually start life as a house plant and get too big. Not a lot of good things to read on the internet about fig trees as landscape trees. They are often planted as a city street tree in warm coastal areas they quickly become unwanted guests. San Francisco can't pull them out fast enough. Older trees will lift sidewalks, clog sewers and create litter.  

Potentially a medium to large evergreen tree, 35 feet tall and wide. Heavily branched producing a thick canopy, ideal for a screen. Ideal for tropical cities. These trees have been pruned for years. 



Leaves are alternate, simple, oval to elliptical, 2-4" long, with entire margins, though sometimes undulated, dark green to lighter green, thick. New growth may be slightly reddish.



Young stems are green to brown. Long terminal bud is typical of most all Ficus species.



Bark is pretty. Mostly silver or gray color, smooth, potentially very thick.



The Indian Laurel will flower and produce small orange fruit that mature dark.



This tree has other names, Ficus retusa, F. nitida. Not sure what is right.

Misidentification:
Ficus benjamina is commonly grown as a houseplant as well and could be found outside. The leaves are thinner, more heavily undulated, have a longer acuminate tip, and tend to be weeping more heavily.
Bottle tree? maybe.

Location:
Santa Cruz
114 Escalona Dr.
River St and Front St at the parking garage.


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