The Moraceae are monoecious or dioecious trees shrubs, lianas, or rarely herbs comprising 40 genera and 1,000 species, nearly all with milky sap. The leaves are simple and alternate or rarely opposite. The stipules are small and lateral or sometimes they form a cap over the bud and leave a cylindrical scar. The flowers are unisexual and minute, and are usually densely aggregated. These aggregations frequently take the form of pendulous aments or catkins. Usually, the perianth consists of 4 or 5 undifferentiated tepals, but sometimes fewer or no perianth segments are present. A typical male flower has four stamens, one opposite each perianth segment. The female flowers have a bicarpellate pistil, generally with two styles, although one may be suppressed. The ovary is superior or inferior and contains a single pendulous ovule in a solitary locule. Fruit types include drupes and achenes that are often coalesced or otherwise aggregated into a multiple accessory fruit.
Each "thumbnail" image below is linked to a larger photograph.
|Artocarpus altilis, breadfruit. The second photo shows a pair of large yellowish stipules just prior to abscission. Also visible is a male inflorescence, an expanding leaf, and the apical meristem enveloped by a younger pair of sheathing stipules. The third photo shows a female inflorescence on the left and a developing multiple fruit on the right. Notice the droplets of white sap on the fruit and also the conspicuous circular stipular scars on the shoot tip at the top of the photo. The apical meristem is enclosed in a large sheathing stipule. The photo at the lower left is a close-up of a female inflorescence. Note the two branched stigmas visible on some of the pistils. The lower right photo is a close-up of a male inflorescence of tightly packed male flowers. Each flower consists of a single stamen subtended by 2-4 reduced perianth segments.|
||Artocarpus heterophyllus, jack fruit, jak fruit. Tree from India and Maylasia with warty fruit up to 2 feet long and weighing up to 76 pounds (the one in the middle photo). The wood is durable and valued for cabinetry. The unripe fruit can be used as a vegetable and when ripe, the pulp can be eaten fresh.|
||Broussonetia papyrifera, paper mulberry, wauke. Shrub or small tree, native to E. Asia. The bark was converted into the finest bark cloth (tapa or kapa) for skirts, capes, loin cloths, sandals, bed clothes, etc. Widely used by Pacific cultures.|
|Dorstenia sp. In this strange plant, male and female flowers are embedded in the surface of a fleshy receptacle that seemingly represents a step in the evolution of the fruiting structure of the fig. A closer view of a portion of the inflorescence is seen in the lower photo. The upper part of the pistils and the styles and stigmas of female flowers are visible in the upper part of the photo. Note the two-branched styles. Anthers of the male flowers are visible as tiny reddish-brown dots.|
|Ficus pumila, climbing fig. This climbing vine is native from China to Australia. In figs the receptacle is spherical and open only at the distal end (left). The cavity is lined with hundreds of tiny unisexual flowers. The female flowers in this species are reddish and the anthers of the male flowers found near the plates at the distal end are whitish.|
|Ficus lyrata, fiddle fig. Tree from Africa.|
||Ficus microcarpa, Chinese banyan, laurel fig. A very large, spreading tree with numerous aerial roots, native to S. China, fruits about 1/4 in. in diameter.|
|Ficus religiosa, Bo tree, Buddha tree. Large tree with leaves having long drawn-out tips, native to India. Buddha was supposed to have received enlightenment under one which is now dead. However, a cutting of this dating from 288 B.C. still exists in Sri Lanka.|
|Ficus carica, edible fig.|
|Morus alba, mulberry. The pendulous spike-like male inflorescences in the second photo are called catkins or aments. Note the small flowers with 4 greenish perianth segments, each with an opposite stamen. The lower left photo shows a tight cluster of small green female flowers, with two brush-like stigmas on each pistil. A multiple fruit derived from a female inflorescence is shown at the lower right.|
|Streblus pendulinus, a'ia'i. Indigenous Hawaiian species, note the small cluster of greenish female flowers, each with a reddish, two-branched stigma, and the whitish pendulous catkin of male flowers.|
Plant Family Access Page