Scientific Name

Ficus benjamina L.


Ficus benjamina var. comosa (Roxb.) Kurz

Ficus cuspido-caudata Hayata

Ficus haematocarpa Blume ex Decne.

Ficus neglecta Blume ex Decne.

Ficus nepalensis auct. non (Spreng.) Blanco

Ficus nitida Thunb.

Ficus nuda Miq.

Ficus papyrifera Griff.

Ficus parvifolia Oken

Ficus reclinata Desf.

Ficus retusa var. nitida (Thunb.) Miq.

Ficus striata Roth

Ficus umbrina Elmer

Ficus waringiana auct.

Urostigma benjamina (L.) Miq.

Urostigma haematocarpum (Blume) Miq.

Urostigma neglectum (Blume ex Decne.) Miq.

Urostigma nitida (Thunb.) Miq.



Common Names

fig; Benjamin fig, weeping fig.


The weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) is native to Asia, Malaysia, parts of Australia and also parts of the Pacific region.


The weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) is widely cultivated around the world for its shade and decorative characters. It is used in landscaping, hedges, and has been extensively used as a roadside plant despite the fact that when fully grown, the tree roots can lift and shift roads and pavements. There are miniature varieties which are used in bonsai. It's virtue as a shade tree has led to it's use in parks and cemeteries.

The species is widely cultivated in Queensland.

Naturalised Distribution

In Australia, the weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) is now found along the eastern coastline from south of Sydney (New South Wales) to the tip of Cape York in northern Queensland.  It is also widespread in the monsoonal tropics area of the Northern Territory and also near Wyndham in northern Western Australia.

The highly attractive nature of the tree has meant that it has been widely cultivated for its ornamental and shade capabilities however it is now widespread and naturalised in the Caribbean region and is listed as "invasive" in Cuba. The species is also now apparently naturalised in South America where it occurs in forests in Bolivia and Colombia.


The natural habitat of the weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) is forests. Its wide tropical distribution means that these may be tropical rainforests, monsoonal forests or mixed wet forests. In some locations (Jamaica), the species has been seen colonising roadsides.


Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) forms a large (up to 30 m in height), spreading tree with weeping/drooping branches.

Distinguishing Features


At emergence, the two more or less circular seed leaves (cotyledons) are extremely small and are about 2-3 mm in diameter. They are followed by the terminal shoot expanding into two or three elliptical leaves.

Stems and Leaves

When the leaf buds are first opening and the branch is elongating, the twig surface can be brown or reddish brown, but this soon changes to a smooth grey.  Branches are also more or less smooth grey and they tend to adopt the drooping/weeping habit.  Adventitious roots may appear from the undersurface of these branches and elongate towards the soil surface. The trunk is grey and is smooth to finely roughened. The diameter of the trunk is a matter of the age of the tree and whether or not adventitious roots have grown parallel to the trunk and fused with it. Very old specimens can reach "trunk" diameters that are extremely large up to several metres.

The leaves are shiny and glossy, elliptical with a pointed apex and about 3-12 cm long and 1.5-6 cm wide. They have even margins. A white latex is produced when the leaf or its leaf stalk are injured.

Flowers and Fruit

The male and female flowers of Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) are produced within the fruit of the tree, the figs. These are entirely enclosed within the body of the fig and can only be reached through the apical opening by the pollinating insect, usually (in Ficus spp) a species of wasp. The figs are globular, about 10-12 mm diameter and are at first green; they then change to reddish and finally black when fully ripe. 

Reproduction and Dispersal

Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) spreads naturally by seeds ingested by birds and mammals. Since it can also reproduce vegetatively by fragments, small detached sections of the plant can be washed away and deposited to grow in new locations.  Human intervention using cuttings has also contributed to the dispersion of the species because the cuttings are remarkably easy to propagate.

Environmental Impact

Where Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) occurs naturally, it is possible for it to have a detrimental effect on the environment through its growth habit of producing steadily expanding and shading branches. This effectively prevents an understory from occurring.  A number of factors contribute to this invasive ability including:

Other Impacts

Negative aspects of the use of Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) are well documented and include such aspects as destruction of roadways and walking pavements by the roots. There is also evidence of the species causing damage to house foundations and drainage when planted too close to a domestic residence. 


Any specimen of Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) that needs to be removed must first be cut back to a small stump. The stump is then treated with herbicides.

This fact sheet has been updated thanks to the sponsorship of Sunshine Coast Council.