Habit: Ficus citrifolia grows as a large tree to 15 meters in height, a trunk to 50 cm in diameter. Aerial roots occasionally form from the branches but rarely become secondary trunks. The leaves are arranged alternately, to 15 cm in length, ovate to elliptic with an entire margin, an acuminate leaf apex and often with a chordate leaf base. 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.
The highly reduced actinomorphic, monoecious, 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” has a long stalk and turns purple-red at maturity.
Ficus citrifolia is distinguished from F. aurea by having leaves that are a darker green and the “fruit” is stalked.
Habitat: Ficus citrifolia grows in Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formation – Forests/Woodlands/ and Shrublands in open areas, rocky flats. It is occasionally found in Pine Woodlands.
Distribution: Ficus citrifolia occurs on all island groupings within the Lucayan Archipelago as well as Florida, the Caribbean region and Mexico south to the central portion of South America.
Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Ficus citrifolia is used in the Lucayan Archipelago to treat cancer, gastrointestinal problems (constipation, worms), circulatory issues (heart ailments), dermatological matters, and pain (tooth aches).
The “fruits” are edible although tasteless.