Updated On : Sunday, 27 February, 2022 11:27:19 AM

Flora of Borneo  >  Family Moraceae  > Genus Ficus  > Ficus religiosa 菩提樹

Ficus religiosa
(菩提樹 Bodhi tree)
Strangler with Many Roots

Ficus religiosa 菩提樹 in Tawau Town

It is easy to find Ficus religiosa (Bodhi Tree) in Tawau both the Imported Trees and the Naturalized Trees.
Imported Bodhi Trees are found planted by devotees in Tawau's Hindu and Buddhist Temples.
Naturalized Trees are found all over the town in residential houses and road side especially underneath power lines.

Here are the old trees at temples:

Ficus religiosa 菩提樹 at Tawau Thirumurugan Temple


Ficus religiosa 菩提樹 at Tawau Pu Zhao Temple 斗湖普照寺
Ficus religiosa 菩提樹 at Tawau Pu Zhao Temple 斗湖普照寺

2021-07-24 SAT 15:03

Ficus religiosa 菩提樹
Stage 4-Wasp-emerging Figs
Stage 5-Ripe Figs (Emerged)



Antenna 0.5mm
Body 1.5mm
Ovipositor 1mm


--- no record --
Tawau Buddhist Lodge 普照寺, Jalan Bunga Raya 2021-07-12 MON

Ficus religiosa of LA Hotel is fruiting again.  Parties for birds will start following week when the fruits ripening.

This is perhaps the first Naturalized Ficus religiosa in Tawau. First documented by in October 2020 in ficusborneo.com.  All other Ficus religiosa found in Tawau are all younger then this tree and no fruiting yet.  The old generation of Ficus religiosa in Tawau's Hindu and Buddhist Temples are not Naturalized.

LA HOTEL 2021-07-20 TUE 15:39


Ficus religiosa is native to Asia, but not native to Borneo Island.

Fig trees are involved in a species-specific pollination mutualism with pollinator wasps,
exotic  due to t

In 2020, nature lovers of Sabah  have been observing plantlets of F. religiosa growing naturally on abandoned buildings and road sides in Tawau, Lahad Datu and Kota Kinabalu.

This  showing that this tree species was hosting pollinating wasps and able to undertaking sexual reproduction outside its native India continent.

How does the original pollinator in India, Platyscapa quadraticeps, is  occurring in figs fruits of F. religiosa in Sabah?

The unexplained presence of the native pollinator from India provides conditions for this reverenced tree to become naturalized  in Sabah.

Plantlets of Ficus religiosa L. sprouting through a wall in Rio de Janeiro.

Specimens of Platyscapa quadraticeps Mayr, 1885 collected from Ficus religiosa L. in Brazil, (a) female, (b) male. Scale bar = 0.5 mm.

The Asian fig tree Ficus religiosa , known as Bodhi tree, is revered by Hindus and Buddhists. In legend, Siddhartha Gautama was enlightened underneath this tree while in meditation.

Devoted Hindus and Buddhist manually planted Budhi Trees using cuttings.

Such fig trees introduced for religious temple landscaping do not reproduce sexually due to the lack of their natural pollinators.  But the Ficus religiosa in Hindu and Chinese Temples of Tawau are reported to have their natural pollinators, Platyscapa quadraticeps, and fruiting each years that attracted several species of common birds in Tawau to consume the fruits and the subsequent spread of these tree species on concrete wall creaks and road sides in Tawau.

While Ficus religiosa Plantlets are commonly discovered in all corners of Tawau, there is no sighting of Ficus religiosa in the  natural forests of Tawau.

These photographs in this web page show  the occurrence of  Ficus religiosa and Platyscapa quadraticeps in Tawau's fig trees.

F. religiosa has not yet reached forested areas.

The finding of pollinator  wasps confirms the naturalization of F. religiosa in Sabah urbanized areas. However, there is still no sighting  of F. religiosa trees in natural forests in Sabah. Those young tree plantlets of F. religiosa are growing naturally in town areas of Tawau and Lahad Datu.

Ficus religiosa trees are found around the world as ornamental tree propagated through cuttings, and not naturally frown from seed.

In countries where the pollinating wasp is not present, F. religiosa has been propagated only through cuttings.

F. religiosa in Tawau Town

Plantlets of F. religiosa were observed since 2020 growing spontaneously on walls in Tawau Town, indicating that the fig species is reproducing sexually in this area.

The Old and the Young

The oldest batch of F. religiosa in Tawau Town are about 50 years tree age and were manually planted by Hindus and Buddhists at their temples. All these old batch of F. religiosa were imported and manually planted at the locations.

These young plantlets were all naturally dispersed. This suggest that the pollinator, P. quadraticeps, has only recent decades arrived in Tawau. But how does this tinny insect fly so far from India to Borneo?

These juvenile trees have been found on many town and residential  walls and rooftops. The furthest is more than 5 km away from adult F. religiosa trees at the Hindu and Buddhist Temple.

Among this new generation of  juvenile young trees, one has grown to adult and started fruiting recently years. This tree is the one opposite St. Patrick Church beside the drainage drain. This is the only fruiting among the many new plantlets.  This is not the only fruiting fig in front St. Patrick Church, two more fruiting figs F. Microcarpa and F. Benjamina were within 50 meters to each other. All grown on concrete cracks of the  drainage drain and all under the power supply lines.


While  the POLLINATOR  was confirm found, NON-POLLINATING WASP is not found yet.

The fact of absent of non-pollinating wasp in F. religiosa in Tawau could indicate that the original old  plants  of  temples were transported by devotees without their figs, and consequently without the NON-POLLINATOR wasps.

The fact of present of POLLINATOR could not confirm that pollinating wasp were transport with the original old batch of tree as the gap between the old and young is too large. The POLLINATOR arrived only recent years. 

Then where does the POLLINATOR came from and how?  Probably by WIND. The pollinator P. quadraticeps, found its host trees inn Tawau probably due to the exceptional ability to disperse over long distances carried by the wind.

In India, there is a diversity of fig wasps that inhabit F. religiosa figs. In Tawau Town of Borneo Island, so far only one species of pollinator is found. No non-pollinator yet.

The naturalization of both F. religiosa  in  Tawau  indicate the importance of monitoring the reproduction of non-native fig trees in Borneo.

Ficus religiosa 菩提樹







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