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Fiddle-leaf Fig Ficus lyrata

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Ficus pandurata
Phonetic Spelling
FY-kus ly-RAY-tuh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

The fiddle-leaf fig is a small tropical tree and broadleaf evergreen, commonly grown and popular as a houseplant in many areas of the United States. As a houseplant, it will grow 2 to 10 feet tall. It has large, broad, lyre-shaped, green leaves that can measure up to 18 inches long. This plant rarely flowers or fruits when grown as a houseplant. The stems have a milky sap that can irritate the skin.

This plant is native to tropical regions of western and central Africa. It will grow 60 to 100 feet tall and is erect and vase-shaped.  It is frequently used as an ornamental shade tree in tropical climates. In its native habitat, the plant will produce figs that appear solitary or in pairs. 

The genus name, Ficus, is derived from the Latin name for an edible fig. The specific epithet, lyrata, means "in the shape of a lyre" and refers to the shape of the plant's leaves.

The fiddle-leaf fig prefers bright indirect light or partial shade and moist, well-drained, loamy, acidic soils. They are sensitive to overwatering and also need protection from the afternoon sun. It also performs best in medium relative humidity with a temperature greater than 55 degrees F. This a relatively low-maintenance houseplant that may be pruned as needed. The fiddle-leaf fig can be planted outdoors in plant hardiness zones 10 through 12.

This plant is toxic to humans, cats, and dogs if ingested. Oral irritation, excessive drooling, and vomiting may occur. The sap can irritate the skin and gloves are recommended when handling this plant, particularly when pruning or propagating.

In the United States, the fiddle-leaf fig is a tropical tree that is used as a houseplant in temperate areas and may be grown in a container. The container can be brought outside to a sheltered deck or patio during the summer months and brought indoors as the outdoor temperatures start to drop in the fall. The fiddle-leaf fig can also make a great focal point in a living room or office space. Texturally heavy, this plant is best suited for large spaces.

Seasons of Interest:

Foliage: Year-round                         

Quick ID Hints:

  • small tropical  tree used as a houseplant,  2 to 10 feet tall
  • woody stem with milk sap
  • large, leathery, coarse, and fiddle-shaped leaves, up to 18 inches long and 12 inches wide
  • leaves are bullate and not glossy
  • rarely fruits or flowers as a houseplant

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  The fiddle leaf fig has no serious insect pests or diseases. As a houseplant, monitor for scale, aphids, mealy bugs, thrips, and spider mites. Potential diseases include bacterial or fungal diseases. Leaf scorch can occur if the plant is receiving too much direct sunlight. Brown spots may occur if there is a fluctuation in room temperatures for heating or cooling vents. Leaf drop may occur from too much or too little water.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bambino'
    dwarf variety, grows a few feet tall
  • 'Compacta'
    grows up to 5 feet tall, smaller leaves
  • "Little Sunshine'
    small plant and has bright, violin-shaped green leaves
  • 'Variegata'
    leaves are green and cream colored, uncommon variety
'Bambino', 'Compacta', "Little Sunshine', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#evergreen#houseplant#specimen#broadleaf evergreen#low maintenance#acidic soils tolerant#fantz#humidity tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#tropical feel#container plant#wet soils intolerant#poisonous if ingested#patio#landscape plant sleuths course#cpp
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bambino'
    dwarf variety, grows a few feet tall
  • 'Compacta'
    grows up to 5 feet tall, smaller leaves
  • "Little Sunshine'
    small plant and has bright, violin-shaped green leaves
  • 'Variegata'
    leaves are green and cream colored, uncommon variety
'Bambino', 'Compacta', "Little Sunshine', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#evergreen#houseplant#specimen#broadleaf evergreen#low maintenance#acidic soils tolerant#fantz#humidity tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#tropical feel#container plant#wet soils intolerant#poisonous if ingested#patio#landscape plant sleuths course#cpp
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ficus
    Species:
    lyrata
    Family:
    Moraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Tropical Western and Central Africa
    Distribution:
    Native: Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo. Introduced: Canary Island El Salvador, Trinidad-Tobago, and the United States.
    Play Value:
    Textural
    Edibility:
    Toxic if ingested.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Houseplant
    Perennial
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    10a, 10b, 11a, 11b, 12a, 12b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a globose, fleshy fig that is finely pubescent and appears either solitary or in pairs. It is green with white flecks or dots and turns red upon ripening. It is round and measures 0.5 to 1.25 inches in diameter. The fruits are rarely seen when grown as a houseplant. They are present if grown outdoors in their native habitat.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are not showy and appear minute, axillary, unisexual, enclosed in a fleshy receptacle (fig), entered by an apical orifice, and pollinated by fig wasps. Houseplants rarely bloom.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    It has attractive oval and semi-lobed thick leathery green leaves. Some of the leaves resemble fiddles, hence the common name. Leaves have prominent veins and can grow 12 inches long and 5 inches wide. The leaves are alternate, simple, large, obovate to lyrate, apex truncate to obtuse, base cordate, bullate, initially finely pubescent and later glabrous, and coriaceous. They are dull green on the upper surface and pale green on the undersides. The leaf blade can measure 8 to 15 inches long.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    The bark is brown and flaky when the tree is young. As it matures, the bark becomes gray and smooth.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The plant is scarcely branched in younger specimens, stiff and sturdy, and without aerial roots. The sap from the stems is milky.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Patio
    Design Feature:
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Children
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Oral irritation, burning of the mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    insoluble calcium oxalates
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Sap/Juice
    Stems