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Have you ever seen a fiddle leaf fig tree in the wild? If not, you’re in for a treat! 

These trees are beautiful and can be found in jungles across the world. You would hardly believe that a fiddle leaf fig in its natural habitat is related to the common indoor houseplant due to their tremendous size outdoors.

In this article, we will discuss where to find these trees and what to look for when identifying them.

Fiddle Leaf Figs in the Wild: The Ultimate Guide

Do fiddle leaf figs grow in the wild?

Yes, fiddle leaf fig plants grow in the wild, and they have existed for more than a million years. They come from the Ficus genus, which includes other wild plants such as the rubber tree and the common fig tree. 

They belong to the larger Moracaer family, which contains more familiar trees you’ll recognize, such as mulberry trees, and sycamore trees.

A fiddle leaf fig tree has large leaves with an oval and almost violin-shaped form, which is where the term “fiddle” comes from. The plant has thick waxy leaves that have a dark rich green color.

wild fiddle leaf fig in its natural habitat
Source: ritirene (CC BY 4.0)

When the fiddle leaf fig is grown outdoors in the wild, it can exceed the size of a houseplant by 5 to 10 times, becoming a massive tree. The trunk is usually straight, and the bark is a smooth gray color.

The branches of the fiddle leaf fig are sturdy and support the large leaves. The leaves are attached to the branches via petioles, which are long and slender stalks.

Each leaf has many veins running through it that help support the leaf and transport nutrients. They also provide a beautiful pop of contrast as they are light green and yellowish in color.

How do fiddle leaf figs in the wild grow?

The fiddle leaf fig tree starts as an epiphyte, which is a plant that grows on another plant as a support system. They are commonly found in the rainforest where they grow on other trees. As they mature, their roots will wrap around the host tree and eventually strangle it.

The tree absorbs nutrients and water from the poor host tree, which eventually kills it. This may seem like a bad thing, but it’s actually an important process in the rainforest. When trees die and fall to the ground, they provide nutrients and homes for other plants and animals.

Where do fiddle leaf figs grow naturally?

Fiddle leaf figs thrive in lowland tropical rainforest regions. This tree originated in the West African coastal region because of the humid, wet conditions. It can also be found in other parts of Africa, as well as Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

The fiddle leaf fig tree grows best in tropical environments because it needs high humidity and lots of rainfall. It also prefers bright direct sunlight, which is why it often germinates and grows at the top of other trees.

It also does well in partial shade, but it won’t fruit as abundantly. In the competitive jungle environment, the fiddle leaf fig tree has to struggle to get the sunlight it needs as it fights against several other species of plants.

How tall do fiddle leaf figs grow in the wild?

A fiddle leaf fig tree can grow to be over 60 feet tall in the wild. Their leaves can grow to a span of 30 inches long and 12 inches wide. Since they don’t have fenestrations, these leaves are quite heavy and need a solid stem to support them.

The trunk of a fiddle leaf fig tree can be up to three feet in diameter, and the branches can grow up to four inches in diameter. The roots of the tree are also quite large and can extend up to 10 feet from the base of the tree.

large fiddle leaf fig in the wild
Source: Thalia M. Mite (CC BY 4.0

The main factors that determine the overall size of the fiddle leaf fig tree are the amount of sunlight, water, and nutrients it receives. During conditions such as drought, the fiddle leaf fig will stop growing and shed leaves to conserve water.

The African coast has provided the perfect conditions for the fiddle leaf fig tree to thrive. The warm, humid air and plentiful rainfall create an ideal environment for this tropical plant. However, as climates become increasingly arid in this part of the world, the fiddle leaf fig tree is struggling to reach its full-size potential.

Deforestation and habitat destruction are also taking a toll on this species. In some areas, the wild fiddle leaf fig tree is now considered an endangered species.

Do fiddle leaf figs fruit in the wild?

In a fiddle leaf fig’s natural habitat in the wild, the plant will produce a small fig-like fruit that is round in shape and light green with speckles. These fruits are about the size of a large grape and grow in clusters.

The fiddle leaf fig tree produces fruit throughout the year, but the peak season is from June to August. During this time, the tree will produce an abundance of fruit.

These fruits may look similar to the traditional figs you’re used to eating from the Ficus carica plant, but don’t let their appearance fool you. The fiddle leaf fig fruit is actually inedible for humans.

These fruits either taste tart or bland and dry out one’s mouth. The fiddle leaf fig tree produces fruit primarily for animals, such as bats, birds, and monkeys. These animals help spread the plant’s seeds so they can continue to grow in other areas.

Why won’t an indoor fiddle leaf plant produce fruit?

The main reason why an indoor fiddle leaf fig tree will not produce fruit is that it doesn’t have access to the necessary pollinators that it depends on in the wild. It also isn’t likely to fruit because it doesn’t have enough sunlight to trigger the fruiting process.

Fiddle leaf fig trees need to be exposed to 12 hours of sunlight per day to produce fruit. They also require a specific type of wasp for pollination. These wasps lay their eggs inside the developing figs, and the larvae consume the flesh of the fruit as they mature.

fiddle leaf fig fruit in the wild
Source: jvt1955 (CC BY-NC 4.0

When the wasp enters the flower to lay its eggs, it also transfers pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers. This is a much more complicated pollination process than is required for other types of plants.

If you want your indoor fiddle leaf fig tree to produce fruit, you’ll need to provide it with plenty of sunlight and the right type of pollinator. This may require bringing your potted plant outside. However, even then, there’s no guarantee that it will actually bear fruit.

Because of this, it’s nearly impossible to grow a fiddle leaf houseplant from seed because they aren’t widely available. Instead, fiddle leaf figs are propagated through cuttings and division. This is how most people get their hands on a fiddle leaf fig plant for their home.

Do variegated fiddle leaf figs grow in the wild?

Yes, it’s possible for a variegated fiddle leaf fig tree to grow in the wild. However, these trees are quite rare and aren’t often seen in nature. This is because the variegation is caused by a mutation that occurs randomly.

A variegated fiddle leaf fig tree has leaves that are multicolored with streaks or patches of white, yellow, or cream. These colors are usually intermingled with the tree’s traditional green leaves.

The variegation pattern is unique to each individual tree and can vary greatly from one plant to the next. While variegated fiddle leaf fig trees are quite striking, they aren’t as common as their green counterparts.

If you’re lucky enough to spot a variegated fiddle leaf fig tree in the wild, you’ll likely never see another one like it. These trees are truly one of a kind and are more sensitive to sunlight, so they’re not often found in nature.

How does variegation actually affect a fiddle leaf fig?

Since a variegated wild fiddle leaf fig plant has less chlorophyll, this means it is more susceptible to sunburn. This could lead to brown spots on the leaves, drooping leaves, and even leaf loss due to direct strong sunlight.

The plant will try to produce purely green leaves to make up for the lost chlorophyll, but this isn’t always successful.

It’s also important to note that a variegated fiddle leaf fig tree will likely never produce fruit. This is because the mutation that causes the variegation also interferes with the tree’s reproductive capabilities by reducing the plant’s overall ability to receive and use the sun’s energy effectively.