Native to: India, Malaysia
Laurel fig was introduced into Florida in the early 1900s as an ornamental tree. It has since escaped cultivation due to the accidental introduction of species-specific pollinating wasps.
Laurel fig invades the interior and edges of hammocks and is often found growing as epiphytes (on trees) or epiliths (on rocks or stone structures). It produces a large number of viable seeds which are ingested and spread by birds and animals. Because laurel fig is adapted to a wide range of conditions, it outcompetes native flora by strangling its host plant with its aerial roots during its early life as an epiphyte. As a mature tree, its dense canopy and numerous, hanging aerial roots shade out competitors.
The UF/IFAS Assessment lists laurel fig as a species of caution for central and south Florida. FLEPPC lists it as a Category l invasive species due to its ability to invade and displace native plant communities.
Regular monitoring and removal of plants can prevent the spread and establishment of laurel fig. Programs to educate homeowners on proper plant identification will also reduce the spread of this species. Native alternatives to laurel fig for use in home landscaping or natural areas include Strangler fig (Ficus aurea), Mastic (Sideroxylon foetidissimum) or Live oak (Quercus virginiana).
Remove any seed pods if possible and pull seedlings. Hand-pulling and removal of entire plants, particularly the roots, is practical for small infestations.
Remove existing mature trees if possible.
There are no known biological control agents for Laurel fig.