Ficus, Podocarpus

Today Fetter and I worked on a couple of Ficus microcarpa and a Podocarpus gracilior.

Let’s start with the Ficus trees. The goal was to do light, natural flow pruning. We want these trees to grow big, but look natural. As you can see it doesn’t look like we did much at all. I like it when you look at one of my trees and you wouldn’t know that it had just been pruned.

These are fairly young Ficus street trees. It’s my guess that they have been in the ground for no more than 5 years.

You don’t see many young Ficus trees here in SF. Back in the 80’s Ficus were all the rage because they adapt to our harsh urban conditions. 10 years later San Franciscans found out that they rip up sidewalks. So they don’t plant them much any more, except in Pacific Heights. Your guess is as good as mine. . .

Back in 1990-91 there was a freak cold spell here that wiped out thousands of Ficus trees. There are still many in the Mission, especially along 24th Street where the weather is about 10 degrees warmer than the rest of the city.

The fruit and reproduction systems of species in the genus Ficus are unique. Each species of Ficus has an associated species of agaonid wasp. Ficus species can only be pollinated by their
associated agaonid wasps and in turn, the wasps can only lay eggs within their associated
Ficus fruit.

The Ficus is everywhere. It is a terrible nuisance in parts of the world where the pollinator wasp has appeared. In Hawaii, Florida, Bermuda, and South and Central America it is an invasive weed. Animals and birds spread the seeds everywhere. They often grow epiphytically, starting off as a seed dropped in the crotch of another tree. They will eventually choke out the native host tree.

The images below are the before and after pictures of the Podocarpus gracilior.