Ficus platypoda (platy- meaning “broad” and -poda meaning “foot”) is commonly known as desert fig or rock fig. This species is broadly distributed in the northern half of Australia, but seems most often associated with dry, rocky habitats of central and northern Australia (as illustrated).
The photographer, Lorraine, notes that the roots of Ficus platypoda “…swell with water and the process can create enough pressure to crack the rock. Over hundreds of years the plants contribute to the erosion of the sandstone to create the beautiful beehive shapes in the reserve”. To see these shapes, we again turn to Lorraine’s photos: Caranbirini Conservation Reserve photo 1 and photo 2.
This shrub or small tree (to 9m) takes well to cultivation. Given its ability to grow in rock, it is used for drought-resistant plantings. It also accepts pruning well, either as a specimen tree or a bonsai.