Ficus trees are garden favorites. My favorite Ficus tree is a lesser known species called F. sumatrana, which I first saw in the gardens of Tabang, Bulacan. I was searching for kamuning (Murraya paniculata) specimens and accidentally stumbled upon a new Ficus with growth and form similar to a kalamansi. That is why I christened it myself as baleteng-kalamansi. I kept a specimen in my own garden till lately when I thinned out exotic species in favor of native shrubs. Though I was hesitant to let it go, it was eating space much needed for my native plant propagations (as experiment for my thesis). My lone tree went to a friend who was more than happy to take it.
A few months back, I was conversing with botanist Leonard Co about native Ficus and he casually ran down a list of native species. He was uttering Ficus one by one...F. benjamina, caulocarpa, septica, microcarpa ... sumatrana. As soon as I heard sumatrana, my heart skipped a beat. My favorite Ficus is Philippine native... and I already gave away my specimen. I was ready to forego of the plant as my favorite but now that I have learned that it is indigenous, I more than ever would want a specimen. The leaves of F. sumatrana are fine and compact, a very attractive addition to any landscape. I sure could not wait to have one again in my garden.