The Ficus nitida is a tropical fig tree that is commonly known as the Chinese Banyan, Indian fig or Indian laurel fig. The Ficus nitida originates in southeastern Asia, on the island of Borneo, and in Malaysia. The tree, however, is also widely distributed in the western United States, especially throughout Arizona and California.
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The Ficus nitida is characterised by small leaves that are deep green in colour. The leaves are oval shaped and alternate up its stem. The smooth bark ranges in colour from reddish to grey and is flecked with tiny and horizontal dots that are known as "lenticels." The branches of the tree grow upright and the roots are aerial. The foliage is markedly dense. The evergreen tree ranges between 30 and 60 feet in height, and its spread is generally about 40 feet.
The Ficus nitida works well when grown under full sun. During the summer months, the Ficus nitida requires heavy watering. The tree is generally frost hardy, however, in cases of recently planted plants, leaf drop may occur. The Ficus nitida is propagated via cuttings. The Ficus nitida responds positively to regular pruning.
Although the Ficus nitida is considered to be an invasive pest and noxious weed in Hawaii and Florida, it is also considered to be very useful in areas with hot climates on the United States mainland, such as Arizona and California. Due to the tree's massive height and spread, it is frequently used to provide shade. In Arizona and California, the trees commonly appear as large hedges (when pruned) and planted in rows.
The Ficus nitida is classified as a noxious weed in Hawaii due to the fact that when fig wasps (which are native to Hawaii) pollinate the trees' flowers, seeds will drop out of the trees. The seeds that drop have extremely high rates for germination, and can very quickly overtake an entire area.
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