Habit: Ficus aurea grows as a large tree to 20 meters in height, a trunk to 1.25 meters in diameter, with branches producing aerial roots that can become secondary trunks. The leaves are arranged alternately, to 25 cm in length, oblong with an entire margin and an acuminate leaf apex. Where the petiole attaches to the stem there is a prominent ring on the stem formed from the dehiscent apical sheath. The apical sheath has a slight hook at its tip known as a “cat’s claw.” Vegetative material produces milky latex when broken.
Ficus aurea is monoecious. The highly reduced, incomplete, imperfect, actinomorphic flowers are borne entirely within a structure known as a synconium (fig) and are fertilized by wasps. Staminate flowers have a perianth of 2-6 parts and 2 anthers. The carpellate flowers have no perianth or stamens and a single superior carpel. The berry-like “fruit” is without a stalk, being sessile on the stem and turns yellowish-red at maturity.
Ficus aurea is distinguished from F. citrifolia by having leaves that are a lighter green and the “fruit” is sessile on the stem.
Habitat: Ficus aurea grows in Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formation – Forests/Woodlands/ and Shrublands in and around sinkholes. It is occasionally found in Sabal palmetto- dominated woodlands.
Ficus aurea is often known to germinate while on other trees forming roots that may encompass the trunk of the “host” giving it the name of Strangler Fig.
Distribution: Ficus aurea occurs on all island groups in the Lucayan Archipelago except the extreme southern islands of the Inaguas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Ficus aurea also occurs in Florida and the rest of the Caribbean region.
Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Ficus aurea is used in the Lucayan to treat cancer, gastrointestinal problems (constipation, worms), circulatory issues (heart ailments), dermatological matters, and pain (tooth aches).