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Moraceae:

With over 1,000 species and 40 genera, this family is one of the more recognizable forest species in tropical areas. The family contains the figs, which are well known for their ability to strangle other trees by growing roots around them. These roots later become part of the tree trunk. The trees often grow from the top down. Seeds will land in a small crevice of another tree and will then send roots down to the forest floor. It is a great adaptation in an environment where light is such a limiting factor.

Another unique thing about figs is their floral arrangement. Most figs actually have their flowers enclosed inside the 'fig'. What has happened is that the receptacle that holds the flowers has grown up and around, inclosing the flowers. Figs are pollinated by fig-wasps of which most species have their own unique wasp pollinator.

Some common members of this family include the mulberry (Morus alba) Breadfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), which has the world record largest fruit at 76lbs, and the famous Bo tree (Ficus religiosa) of which Buddha reportedly sat under to meditate for an extended amount of time.


Systematics: Sap is usually milky. The flowers are unisexual and small. The males usually have 4 stamen. The female flowers have pendulous ovules with 2 carpels and one ovule and one pistil. There are 4 tepals. Male flowers are almost indistinguishable from the Urticaceae family.

Specimens List

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis)

This was one of th species collected by the HMS Bounty as a food source for slaves in the New World.



Floral Diagram


Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)

Fruits from this tree can attain giant proportions, some almost 80 lbs.


Mulberry (Morus spp)

There 10-16 species of Mulberry. The contain anthocyanins, which are edible pigments that can be used as dyes.


Strangler Fig (Ficus spp)

This is a genus of about 800 species, including the Boa tree, Common Fig and the so-called strangler figs.


 

Links to more information

  • Dr. Carr's UH Botany Moraceae Webpage.
 
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