F i g    T r e e

There are over 900 different kinds of fig trees in the world and several different kinds in the Amazon, of which Ficus insipida is one of the most common. A canopy tree, it grows up to 120 feet tall. It has buttress roots, thick leathery leaves, and produces a prolific supply of soft green to yellow fruits about an inch wide.

Fig fruits are eaten by a wide variety of different kinds of animals. In fact, the fruit of the fig tree is eaten by more animal species than any other kind of tree on earth.

Fig fruits are filled with many small seeds, similar to tomatoes. Their small size and large number ensures that some will escape being crushed by teeth or beaks as the fig is eaten, and will survive to give rise to fig seedlings.

Hundreds of animals are attracted to a fruiting fig crown during the day: toucans, macaws, pigeons, monkeys, etc. At night, nocturnal feeders such as bats and other mammals arrive. Forest floor animals like the agouti and capybara eat figs that fall to the ground.

The abundant fruits that turn yellow (or red/purple) upon ripening not only attract many potential seed-scattering animals, but the figs also contain chemicals that stimulate bowel movements: another adaptation that ensures a wide and scattered dispersal of their seeds.