Family: Rock Fig
Strangely, Rock Fig is a rare plant in Melbourne, even though it is more suited to Melbourne conditions than most of the others used. Rock Fig comes from the northern half of Australia, but it is not found only in tropical or subtropical forests. F. platypoda is known for its growth in rocky, dry, exposed areas, as far south as central Australia. In these areas, F. platypoda is exposed to hot dry summers and sub-zero temperatures in winter.
Rock Fig has excellent oval foliage that is thick and very heavily waxed. These leaves appear to be almost as waxy as found on Rubber Plant, F. elastica. Like other figs, Rock Fig has a finely-textured grey bark that looks and feels like elephant hide. The fruits on F. platypoda are tiny and hard; they are normally the size of a marble. These fruits hold on the tree for many months before falling, and are small enough not to be a nuisance.
F. platypoda can be pruned to formal shape, be allowed to grow to its natural form, or be carefully pruned to accentuate the excellent shape, fruit, bark and foliage. Because it normally grows to only 8 metres, it is unlikely that it will become too large for its site. Artistic pruning should be undertaken every few years for this emphasis of excellent attributes as discussed above.
Currently, there are few F. platypoda grown in Australia – many times fewer than the thousands of F. microcarpa available. Metropolitan Tree Growers will be sourcing good forms of Rock Fig and adding these to our list of plants available in a variety of sizes. These are very fine, rare trees.
Typical mature height: to 8m
Useful in: streetscapes, displays
Sites for best growth: moisture retentive but well-drained