Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cuban Laurel, Indian Laurel Fig, Green Island Fig, Chinese Banyan
Ficus microcarpa

Family: Moraceae (mor-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ficus (FY-kus) (Info)
Species: microcarpa (my-kro-KAR-puh) (Info)

Synonym:Ficus nitida
Synonym:Ficus retusa
Synonym:Urostigma microcarpum
Synonym:Ficus thynneana
Synonym:Ficus amblyphylla

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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3 positives
No neutrals
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative iloveorchids On Mar 24, 2008, iloveorchids from Austin, TX wrote:

i have a few of these as bonsai they can be quite hard to control without proper pruning

Negative eurokitty On Jun 23, 2006, eurokitty from Seattle, WA (Zone 9b) wrote:

As per the above posting, I found one of these in my yard last winter at our second home in SW Florida. I actually had an arborist come through my yard and he failed to identify it, suggesting it was "some kind of volunteer." It was pretty small then.

Well, five months later we returned, and it's at least doubled in size. It gained eight to 10 feet and grown four additional thick trunks. Its spread was amazing. It also started to drop loads of babies - I've pulled out more than 40 from my yard and my neighbor's yard. Evidently, the one wasp that can pollinate this tree lives in my neighborhood.

It's such a pretty tree and offers a lot of shade in our backyard. I hate to cut it out, but I just fear horrors if it's left to grow at its current rate.

I looked at photos of my backyard when I bought it in 2003. The tree wasn't there. It's 20 feet high now, with five trunks, one of them pretty thick. It's amazing how fast it crept in.

Negative NativePlantFan9 On Dec 12, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

The Laurel Fig or Indian Laurel (Ficus microcarpa) is very invasive in central and southern Florida, especially from zone 9b (from Fort Pierce and near St. Petersburg and Tampa) southward. It spreads everywhere, the seeds dispersed by birds and the introduced Fig Wasp (its only natural pollinator), and spreads and is dispersed in sidewalks, natural areas, and even in the stone walls of buildings and on the underneath of bridges and highway overpasses! It quickly grows into a large tree, it's extremely strong and powerful roots spreading and cracking through almost every obstacle, including stone, concrete and the tiniest gaps and spaces! It seems it doesn't need any soil to grow since it can even grow out of concrete and the undersides of highway overpasses, where there are only the tiniest openings and gaps for seeds to grow! It even spreads in nature preserves and natural habitats, crowding out native vegetation and continually reproducing seeds - which can survive anywhere, even in the tiniest gaps, including in the gaps of sidewalks and concrete - which are dispersed by birds and other factors, and is very, very or extremely hard to eradicate - they can even grow back from small bits of root remaining that wasn't dug out, and spread and grow back! It easily kills host plants such as when it spreads in the boots of palms such as the native Cabbage Palmetto as well as the introduced, ornamental Date Palms and other palms, grows quickly, smothers the tree and kills it, growing into a huge tree. Removal can be expensive and costly as well, and roots are extremely hard to get rid of and dig out. Because of this, many ornamental, valuable, attractive as well as native palms all over south Florida are lost to this invasive ficus. This tree is too invasive, spreads too quickly, and is nearly impossible to very hard to be removed to be recommended in central and south Florida, from zone 9b southward. If you live in Florida from zone 9b southward, do not plant this ficus! I don't think it's worth it to plant something as invasive and hard to remove as this.

MORE FACTS - Also widespread in the Caribbean and other tropical and subtropical regions elsewhere. Due to it's invasiveness in Florida, it is on the category one of the Florida Exotic Pest Plants Council's (FLEPPC) Invasive Plant List. Fast-growing.

UPDATE - This plant is also a pest in Hawaii, where the pollinating wasps were successfully introduced in the second half of the 20th century. It has since spread to many of the islands in the Hawaiian Island chain... even to remote islands in the Midway Atoll, several hundred miles northwest of Hawaii. It seems to be hardy there. It is now a pest on many of the islands.

Like in Florida, it can grow in cracks of bridges and sidewalks and on the undersides and sides of buildings there and can be hard to eradicate.

Positive foodiesleuth On Jul 13, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

In our village we have two huge banyans planted just a bit over 50 years ago in honor of two of the village's young men killed during WWII. They are a sight to see.

Banyan Drive in Hilo is known for the giant Chinese Banyans (Ficus microcarpa 'Retusa') that line the street. Each tree is marked with plaques and were planted by famous Americans and Hawaiian royalty. ...Amelia Erhardt, Richard Nixon (when he was a senator), etc.

Another venerable banyan in Hilo is on Kilauea Street (near Aupuni Street) and the back edge of Wailoa Lake, almost downtown. The tree was given historic stature so it could not be cut, after another huge and ancient banyan was cut down (amids controversy and many protest) a couple of years before

Positive punaheledp On Jul 12, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

When I was a child, my parents removed the last banyan in our yard as its roots threatened the house foundation. The stump (about 4 feet in diameter) was fascinating, not one trunk like other trees, but many fused together with spaces in between in a wonderful abstract pattern. A few years later the house foundation was damaged anyway by a neighbors banyan. destiny. There are many fabulous banyans in Hawaii with massive root systems and I rate positive if they are planted where there is lot of room, negative if they are in a parking area...the fruit makes a mess. Don't leave you're potted tree out on the ground for any length of time. Its roots will go out the drain holes and the tree will plant itself.

Positive palmbob On Apr 22, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This species is much safer planted in So Cal, where it is almost planted too often. Fortunately we don't appear to have that evil spreader of seeds and it pretty much stays where it is. If you drive ANYWHERE in Los Angeles county you will see hundreds of not thousands of these trees planted along the streets- they make fabulous street trees with their huge, thick, concrete colored trunks and massive, easy to prune heads of lime green to deep green leaves. It also makes for great living walls and hedges. Some prune this treen into wonderfully odd spheres, ovals, squares, etc. Unfortunately it does have pretty invasive roots and tends to lift up sidewalks and curbs nearby. Also called Ficus retusa and nitida (the more common names sold under in So Cal).

Negative Monocromatico On Aug 12, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This is a monumental fig tree, reaching up to 20m tall or more, with a vigorous sculptural trunk. It ressembles the Weeping Fig "Ficus benjamina", but has smaller and smoother leaves and more rigid young branches.

It needs a certain species of wasp to get the flowers inside the figs polinated. When itīs absent, thatīs ok, and you can only propagate it by woody stem cuttings. But when the wasp is around... F. microcarpa turns out to be one of the most dangerous plants of the world. It can grow almost anywhere, including cracks on rocks, sidewalks, walls, pavements, bridges, dilatation joints, roofs... and as it grows, it forces everything around to give it space. In no time, it will take over and destroy everything around the tree. So be careful when planting it.

The pink/red small figs atracts birds. The white sap may cause sking damage and even skin cancer (people use it as a sun tanner ebcause the skin gets darker under the sun light... very wrong. It turns darker because the skin cells DIE).

Itīs my favorite fig tree, though... I wish I could give it a positive evaluation.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Gilbert, Arizona
Mesa, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Beverly Hills, California
Hayward, California
Temecula, California
Boca Raton, Florida
Holmes Beach, Florida
Miami, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Alpharetta, Georgia
Brunswick, Georgia
Hinesville, Georgia
Hilo, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
Honomu, Hawaii

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