Meet 9 Species of Fig Trees

Fig tree with ripe fruit, close up

ValentynVolkov/ Getty Images 

Fig trees, shrubs, and lianas are found in the genus Ficus, which is a part of the fig or mulberry family (Moraceae). Most of them are found in the tropical regions of the world. There are some that can live in the warmer temperate areas. Many species may turn invasive in the right location.

In areas where the fig trees cannot live outside, they are commonly used as houseplants. Weeping figs, rubber trees, and fiddle leaf figs are popular. They are also used in creating bonsai.

Many species of Ficus have aerial roots and are epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants) or hemiepiphyte (starts off the same as the epiphytes, but the roots eventually reach the ground).

Read on to learn more about nine different species of fig trees.

  • 01 of 09

    Banyan

    Picture of banyan tree
    Image by romana klee via Flickr

    The traditional banyan tree is the Indian banyan, though this name may be used for several different species of fig trees. They may also be called strangler figs because of the way they grow. They can sprout in the holes and cracks of an established tree and over time grow around the trunk, effectively strangling the other tree. 

    These trees are epiphytic and the branches form roots that stretch towards the ground and take hold. This effect can make the tree spread out over a large area.

    • Botanical Name: Ficus benghalensis
    • Common Names: Banyan, Banian, strangler fig, Bengal fig, Indian fig, East Indian fig
    • Native Area: India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan
    • USDA Zones: 10 to 12
    • Height: Over 100 feet tall. Some specimens spread out over a wide area that can be several acres.
  • 02 of 09

    Chinese Banyan

    banyan tree
    Image by cliff1066 via Flickr

    The Chinese banyan is another species known as the strangling fig. This tree is commonly used as a street tree in tropical areas. As the Latin species name tells you, the fruits are small for figs.

    • Botanical Name: Ficus microcarpa
    • Common Names: Chinese banyan, Laurel fig, laurel rubber, Indian laurel, curtain fig, Malayan banyan, Cuban laurel, Indian laurel fig, strangling fig
    • Native Area: India and Malaysia
    • USDA Zones: 9 to 11
    • Height: 50 feet to 60 feet tall
  • 03 of 09

    Cluster Fig

    Photo of cluster fig
    Image by ibsut via Flickr

    The fruits of this Ficus species grow in clusters on the trunk as well as on the branches. New leaves are reddish in color when they unfurl.

    • Botanical Name: Ficus congesta
    • Common Names: Congested fig, red leaf fig, Satterthwaite fig
    • Native Area: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines
    • USDA Zones: Likely 10 to 11
    • Height: 10 feet to 50 feet tall
  • 04 of 09

    Common Fig

    Photo of common figs
    Image by AxelRohdeElias via Flickr

    This is the fig you will find in most stores unless you are shopping at local places in the tropics. It is rich in vitamins and minerals. Many of these trees, especially cultivars, are able to produce fruit even without pollination in a process called parthenocarpy.

    • Botanical Name: Ficus carica
    • Common Names: Fig
    • Native Area: Western Asia
    • USDA Zones: 8 to 10. Depending on the cultivar, you can grow these down to zone 5
    • Height: 10 feet to 30 feet tall
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Creeping Fig

    Photo of creeping fig fruit
    Image by Scamperdale via Flickr

    This species is a fast-growing woody vine that can attach itself to the walls of buildings and can be hard to remove. It is drought tolerant. Plants can be trained around wireframes to create topiaries.

    • Botanical Name: Ficus pumila
    • Common Names: Climbing fig
    • Native Area: East Asia
    • USDA Zones: 8 to 11
    • Length: 15 feet to 20 feet long
  • 06 of 09

    Fiddleleaf Fig

    Photo of a potted fiddleleaf fig
    Image by Link text via Creative Commons

    The large leaves are similar in shape to a fiddle, inspiring the common name. This too acts as a strangler fig in its native habitat. It is a recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

    • Botanical Name: Ficus lyrata
    • Common Names: Fiddle-leaf fig, banjo fig
    • Native Area: Western Africa
    • USDA Zones: 10 to 11
    • Height: Up to 100 feet tall in the wild
  • 07 of 09

    Moreton Bay Fig

    Picture of Moreton Bay fig
    Image by just chaos via Flickr

    This species of fig features huge, curving roots that form above the surface. This is the type of tree seen in "Jurassic Park" when they find dinosaur eggs out in the park. This is another strangler fig.

    • Botanical Name: Ficus macrophylla
    • Native Area: Australia
    • USDA Zones: 10 to 11. Can probably survive in 9, if it is mature.
    • Height: Can be over 200 feet tall
  • 08 of 09

    Rubber Tree

    Photo of the rubber fig
    Image by Margaretshear via Flickr

    The latex sap from this tree was once used in the rubber-making process, though these days latex comes from the Para rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis)Now you usually find it serving as a houseplant around the world.

    • Botanical Name: Ficus elastica
    • Common Names: Rubber fig
    • Native Area: India and Indonesia
    • USDA Zones: 10 to 11
    • Height: Can be over 100 feet tall in the wild
    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Weeping Fig

    Picture of the weeping fig
    Image by Brisbane City Council via Flickr

    As a houseplant, weeping figs are notorious for being finicky. They tend to drop their leaves when moved or stressed in some other way. They will get more leaves in time, though.

    Their trunks can be braided or plaited, which will cause the wood to grow together over time. When you hear someone talking about their ficus houseplant, this is usually the one being referred to. 

    • Botanical Name: Ficus benjamina
    • Common Names: Benjamin's fig
    • Native Area: South Asia and Australia
    • USDA Zones: 10 to 11
    • Height: Can reach a height of about 100 feet in its native region