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An evergreen climber clinging to trees, etc., in the same way as ivy; juvenile shoots thin, wiry, bristly, sending out aerial roots from the joints. Leaves of the juvenile (better known) state alternate, closely set in two opposite rows, obliquely heart-shaped, pointed, 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. long, two-thirds as wide, dull green, usually glabrous; stalk very short. Leaves of the adult or fruit-bearing state remarkably different; they are more leathery, ovate, with a heart-shaped base, pointed, 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, half as much wide, rich dark green above, paler and beautifully net-veined (especially as seen through a lens) beneath; stalk hairy, about 1⁄2 in. long. Fruits of the ordinary fig shape, although more tapered at the end than in the common fig, 21⁄2 in. long, 11⁄2 in. wide at the terminal part, tapering thence to the stalk which is 1⁄2 in. long; in colour they are at first green, then bright orange, ultimately tinged with reddish purple and quite decorative. Bot. Mag., t. 6657.
Native of China, Formosa, and Japan; in cultivation 1759. This fig is well known in its juvenile state as a climber in conservatories and cool greenhouses, whose walls it will closely cover with its abundant leafage. The adult stage is reached as a rule only after the plant has grown 10 or 12 ft high and got beyond its support. It then develops thick, non-clinging young shoots bearing the very different leaves described above. F. repens is usually seen under glass but its hardiness is shown by a plant (mentioned in previous editions) which has grown on the south wall of Knepp Castle, West Grinstead, Sussex, for about seventy years. Sir Walter Burrell tells us that it is about 30 ft high, despite having been cut in severe winters. The other plant mentioned in previous editions still climbs on St Matthew’s Church, Chelston, near Torquay.