Ficus burtt-davyi

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Botanical Name
Ficus burtt-davyi
Moraceae - The fig and mulberry family.
FY-kus burt-DAY-vee-eye
Common Name(s)
English: Scrambling Fig; Veld Fig
Afrikaans: Veldvy; Veldwildevy
IsiXhosa: Uluzi; Umdendekwana
IsiZulu: Uluzi; Umthombe
Plant Group
  • Climber / Creeper Climber: a plant that climbs using tendrils or if given support. Creeper: a plant running along the ground, often rooting as it goes.
  • Tree A woody, self-supporting perennial plant usually with a single main stem and generally growing more than 6 meters tall.
Plant Size
  • Small
    Tree4m to 8m
    Shrub50cm to 75cm
    Perennial/ground cover10cm to 20cm
    Bulb20cm to 30cm
    Succulent10cm to 20cm
  • Canopy Shade Canopy shade is found below closely grown trees where some light filters through. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Light or Dappled Shade Found below trees with sparse, open foliage. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Attractive fruits, berries or seeds Brightly coloured fruits or berries increase and extend the visual impact of the plant and are especially attractive to birds and other small wildlife.
  • Drought Tolerance: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Frost: Half-hardy The plant is able to survive low temperatures and some frost but requires protection against severe frost.
  • Roots Invasive Do not plant near pools, paving, walls or buildings.
  • Salt spray tolerant A plant with specific adaptations enabling it to grow in a saline environment.
  • Sand tolerant Plants adapted to survive in nutrient poor, very sandy soils.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
  • Wind Tolerant Plants able to withstand the effect of strong winds.
Specific Information

Ficus Burtt-davyi grows as a shrub, climber or small tree. The glossy green leaves are more or less oval in shape and can vary in size from about 2 to 10 cm in length, depending on its habitat. The fruits are about 10 mm in diameter and are green mottled with white, turning yellowish when ripe. The fruits are much loved by birds. It is highly adaptable to a wide variety of habitats and has even been known to grow on larger trees (epiphytic) as a strangler fig, as well as on rocks (epilithic) where the roots are able to split the rocks in their search for nutrients.

I have never really noticed that I have never seen a flower on a fig tree. Here's why:

Fascinating facts about figs:

The fig we eat is not a fruit but an inside-out flower stalk containing many flowers. This 'container' has a small opening at one end. Through this opening a small female wasp enters and lays her eggs in special infertile flowers, while unintentionally pollinating the fertile flowers and gathering pollen in special sacs. She then leaves through the opening again and carries the pollen to another fig. To add to this intricacy, each species of fig has its own specific species of wasp that pollinates it.


Ficus burtt-davyi is pollinated by a tiny wasp of about 1.5 mm long called Elisabethiella baijnathi.

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See comment above in Specific information.

  • Winter to Summer Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
Growth Rate
  • Fast Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Accent or Focal Point A plant used to attract the attention because of its colour or form.
  • Attracts Birds This plant will attract birds.
  • Boundary A plant useful for planting around the edges of the property to form a green or colourful backdrop, an impenetrable hedge, to hide walls or create privacy.
  • Stabilize Banks Plant is used to prevent soil erosion because their roots will form a mat that stabilizes the soil and keeps it from washing away in heavy rains.
  • Suitable for bonsai A shrub or tree that lends itself to being dwarfed.
  • Suitable for coastal gardens Plants adapted to dry, sandy soil, forceful wind, limited rainfall and intense sunlight.
  • Suitable for seaside gardens Plants that will survive the hostile environment of harsh salty winds, dry sandy soil, irregular rainfall and heat found in seaside gardens.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

along the coastal belt from the eastern part of the Western Cape, through the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal, and north into  Mozambique, in dune forest, thicket, scrub, coastal swamp forest and on sand dunes, and in Savanna on rocky outcrops and cliffs

Planting Suggestions

Plant Ficus burtt-davyi  in full sun or light to partial shade in well drained soil, well away from permanent structures, paving and pools. It can be grown over rocks as an unusual feature in a rock garden, will adapt to a container and is commonly grown as a successful bonsai. It is salt tolerant and can be grown on coastal dunes, where it will seldom grow more than a meter high. Unless in a container, I would not suggest this plant for smaller gardens.

The old method of digging a deep hole and filling it with soil and compost has resulted in many trees failing to thrive, dying, rotting at the base or worse still, falling over in later years due to poor root development.  Refer to the following sites for the best method of planting trees: Planting a tree

International Society of Arboriculture: New Tree Planting

Tree People: Plant the right way

For those of you who have a clay problem try:

Rod's Garden: Planting in clay soil

Medicinal Uses

In earlier times the bark was pounded and woven into sleeping mats.

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Hi there, I would like to get some ficus seed off you, are you able to send to the USA?

Hi Jared

Sorry but I do not have the necessary permits to export plant matter. Try They are an export seed company and have 15 different ficus species in their catalogue.


Hi Lorraine, Would you be prepared to release your image of the green fruit to be used on Wikipedia? It would improve the page on Ficus burtt-davyi tremendously.

Paul Venter

Does Ficus burtt-davyi plant has any other documented or undocumented medicinal use apart from the bark being pounded and woven into sleeping mats.

Hi Muyiwa

None that I have been able to find.

Kind regrds

The fig fruits, important as both food and traditional medicine, contain laxative substances, flavonoids, sugars, vitamins A and C, acids and enzymes. However, figs are skin allergens, and the latex is a serious eye irritant. - Wikipedia

Hi Paul

Thanks for your comment. Please could you give me the exact link to this information as I could not trace it. I must be sure that it refers precisely to Ficus-burtt-davyi and not to the Ficus family in general.

Kind regards

Hi Lorraine, I know of no reliable sources singling out Ficus-burtt-davyi as an allergen for human eyes - the sources I consulted do not specify which species. I suspect you can safely assume that the pharmacological action of fig latex is going to be pretty much the same for all figs.....

Hi Paul

Thanks again for your input.

However, to get back to the original question as to whether there are any other uses of this particular species of fig. I think it has now been established that we have not come across any documented information describing the use of Ficus burtt-davyi, other than that which has been stated in the above text.

Kind regards

Hi please could you tell me when these plants produce figs? How often in a year and which seasons? Thanks :)

Hi Calyn

As mentioned in the above text, figs are produced some time during the period from winter to summer, dependant on local conditions.

Kind regards

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