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Ficus citrifolia (Short leaf fig) is a Florida native tree, occurring on hammocks. It can grow to a height of 40 to 50 feet under ideal conditions. The tree develops a broad irregular open crown. It often forms roots at the surface and has smooth yellowish brown bark. Also, like several ficus spp., its seeds are carried to the crown of a host tree where they germinate then live for a period as an epiphyte. Finally, they then extend aerial roots down to the ground, eventually strangling and replacing the host tree. The evergreen leaves are dark green, simple, alternate, smooth, leathery, oval shaped with a rounded base and pointed tip, resembling a citrus leaf and 2 – 4 inches long.
Furthermore, the flowers are inconspicuous, occurring inside the fruits which are borne on elongated stalks and are 1/4 – 1/2 inch in diameter, containing numerous very small seeds. Flowers are pollinated by specialty wasps and dispersed by birds. The fruits turn from yellow to purple when ripe and are edible. Propagation is by seed and cuttings. All parts of the tree contain a milky latex, which can be used to make chewing gum.
Ficus citrifolia (Short leaf fig) will grow on a range of soils, dry to wet; it does best with moderate organic matter present and is very hardy once established. As a medium-sized foliage tree, and given its tendency to spread, it requires adequate space for growth, and hence is best suited to large gardens and parks as an unusual specimen or native tree. It is best cultivated where litter does not cause problems.