In Ravensbourne National Park last weekend, these trees were in fruit, and were attracting every imaginable fruit-eating bird.
Figbirds, orioles, catbirds, wompoo fruit-doves and plenty of others could be seen from a comfortable spot in the picnic ground at Beutel’s Lookout.
Moreton Bay figs are native to the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing range, and has been planted to some extent on the western side. They were very popular as garden plants in the late 19th century, when lovers of art nouveau saw how well its shoots followed the sinuous curves of that fashionable style.
There seems to have been a fashion, here, for planting them in positions with a view. Old trees can still be found in such places around Toowoomba.
Here’s one in Murphy’s Creek Road at Mt Kynoch. The site was originally a pub at the end of the road, then a farmhouse, and it’s lovely to see this old tree retained in the suburbs.
This one is on Brady’s Sawmill Road, also looking east...
...and this one at the end of Hiwinds road has a magnificent view to the west, over the Bedford St. dump and Gowrie Mountain.
Their popularity as a garden plant has waned with closer settlement and smaller housing blocks, because of their enormous, invasive, root system.
The large leaves become rusty brown on the underside, as the trees mature, making this a very recognisable species.Though very tall in rainforests, it spreads widely, making a lovely big shade tree, if planted in the open. It tolerates light frosts and long droughts, and grows very much faster if it can be planted above ground level, in an old tree stump or a suitable (untreated) wooden post.