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FICUS SYCOMORUS*

DISTRIBUTION

The tree prefers sites associated with a high water table, swamps, or along rivers and streams, but it is also suited to savannahs. It is left standing when riverine forests are cut down (RSCU 1992).

Minimum Altitude (m):

0

Maximum Altitude (m):

2000

REQUIREMENTS

Soil Requirements: Prefers rich, well-drained, sandy soils with a shallow water table (don Maydell 1986).

Influential Factors: Sensitive to frost. When cultivated in a home garden it requires considerable space as it is large, spreading, and very shady.

PROPAGATION

Means of Propagation: Cuttings.

SILVICULTURE

Planting Types: Frequently found on village boundaries and at market places. It is intercropped and in Kilimanjaro and Arusha bananas are grown underneath.

Growth Factors: Fairly fast growing.

Management Systems: Tolerates pruning and lopping.

IMPORTANT USES

Use #1: FODDER
Fruits are eaten by livestock, wild animals, and birds. The leaves are fairly high in nutritive value with about 9% crude protein dry matter (don Maydell 1986).

Use #2: LAND IMPROVEMENT
F. sycomorus is often cited by farmers as an important tree for soil and water conservation and land improvement. It is used as a shade tree, for dune fixation, soil improvement, as a mulch, and for water retention.

Use #3: MEDICINE
The leaves are used to treat snakebites and jaundice. The latex is said to be effective for chest diseases, colds, and dysentery. In the literature numerous other medicinal applications are mentioned including bark remedies to treat coughs, throat infections and chest pains (don Maydell 1986).

OTHER USES: Ficus species are widely valued for spiritual and sacred properties and as a focal point for resolving conflicts.

Fruits are round, from 2.5 to 5 cm in diameter, with a conspicuous opening with many bracts at one end, and of various colours. The fruits can be dried and have a high food value (RSCU 1992). Two or more crops of figs may be produced in a year.

The wood is light, pale, easy to work, but not very durable.


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