I often mention the large Natal Fig (Ficus natalensis) that grows in our garden, but have failed to mention the much smaller Cape Fig (Ficus sur) or Broom-cluster Fig. The sur part of the name comes from an area in Ethiopia named Sur. The fruit of the Cape Fig is a draw-card for a variety of birds such as Olive Thrushes, Cape White-eyes, African Green Pigeons, Redwinged Starlings, Streakyheaded Seedeeaters, Blackcollared Barbets and Speckled Mousebirds.

This tree, though not as tall as one might expect, produces a prolific number of figs from about September to March. They appear in large clusters low down on the trunk and even at ground level.

The plump figs are often carried some distances by Redwinged Starlings. Cape White-eyes, Speckled Mousebirds and others tend to feed on or under the tree, for there is always plenty of fruit on the ground.

Fruit bats are particularly fond of the figs too and we often hear their ‘pings’ in the evenings – though have yet to find where they roost during the day – as they gather to feed greedily on the sweet bounty. We have found evidence of several ‘feeding stations’ where the bats leave their seed-laden droppings. This is one of them, next to our swimming pool.

Postscript: We have discovered that Bryan, the Angulate Tortoise, also enjoys munching the figs!


8 thoughts on “CAPE FIG

  1. When we first moved in here, we had a resident fruit bat living very comfortably in a waterberry tree … right outside our bedroom windows.Those nightly pings (this was in April / May) drove my husband and daughter nuts. I slept like a baby; there are certain advantages to being hard of hearing 😄 When we cleaned out the septic system, we had to have the tree removed as the roots were causing blockages in the french drain. We never saw or heard him again.


    • How interesting. It is not recommended to have figs (or, clearly, Waterberry trees) planted close to buildings. We inherited our fig trees with the garden and are amazed at how large they have become over the past thirty years – fortunately not next to the house. We keep having to remove seedlings though from cracks in the bricks or plaster as the seeds are spread by the droppings of birds – or bats!

      Liked by 1 person

      • People do not always have the knowledge (or they just don’t think) when they plant trees in their gardens. Here in Natal it is, of course, very easy to create a jungle in the back garden. Everything seems to grow twice as fast as anywhere else.


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