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Ficus pumila: Mature leaf forms

The wall before you is covered with Ficus pumila, or creeping fig. Its climbing shoots, which attach themselves to the surface using anchoring roots, bear relatively small, heart-shaped leaves. Further up, you can see branches that project from the wall, with larger, cruder, elliptical leaves. At first glance, they don’t even look as though they belong to the same plant, but these are simply its mature leaves.

Many species of plants develop leaves as mature plants that are very different from those it bore when young. The scientific term for this is heterophyllia.

It’s not just exotic plants that exhibit this trait. Consider the ivy, a common plant here in Europe. Its familiar triangular leaves are actually only characteristic of young plants. The leaves of mature branches look entirely different; they are rhombic-shaped, and grow only on shoots which will flower.

Audio file download
Ficus pumila: Mature leaf forms (MP3, 400 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Günter Gerlach, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg

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