Tree 14

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(Ficus opposita)

A sprawling rather that climbing fig tree or shrub, common along coastal areas from N Queensland to SE Queensland, often in dry scrubs or on dunes. Similar figs with sandpapery leaves occur in moist creek and rainforest areas but Ficus opposita is widely regarded as having the best native fig for human consumption.

Sandpaper Fig will partially defoliate in dry times but springs back with vigorous growth after rain when the small brown figs will swell to several times their size and become fleshy and shiny black. Green or black, the fruit is attractive to fig birds and other birdlife including the usually inland dwelling red-winged parrot. People wishing to share the feast will have to be up early and keep a watchful eye. The leaves are also the major food plant for the larvae of the Common Moonbeam Butterfly.

The rough sandpapery leaf was used by indigenous toolmakers to smooth digging implements and other wood products. A leaf infusion was used for medicinal purposes to treat aches, rashes and influenza.

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Tree No 14 Sandpaper Fig

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