My bones haven’t finished knitting back together, and the gum tree chunks are still in the bed, but on the way back from a fast food run tonight, I saw a log pile on the grass in front of the sidewalk, right on my block! I backed up in front of the driveway there, and loaded one very large trunk piece, and a bunch of other large branch pieces in right on top of the eucalyptus. I have a feeling they were out all day, and people picked through the little stuff for firewood, leaving the large, unruly bits for me.
I’m pretty sure it’s a Ficus, and in this area, it’s probably a Ficus microcarpa 'Nitida' (microcarpa meaning “small fruit”) known commonly as the Indian Laurel Fig, AKA Cuban Laurel, AKA Green Island Fig, AKA Chinese Banyan, and it’s also had many taxonomic renamings over the years, adding lots of confusion to identifying it. The other contender was the Benjamin Fig, or Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina), the plant people across America have in pots in their offices. However, looking that up more closely, the leaves have long, pointy, acuminate tips. The leaves on my haul tonight were shorter, stubbier, and rounded, just like those on the F. m. nitida closeups I’ve tracked down online. There’s a good comparison here (read the description above the photo). Mine are just like those on the right in that shot – F. microcarpa.
The vertical log right of center in this shot was the biggest piece, with a diameter ranging from 13” to 14”.
The one with the round face a bit high and left of center here is a bit over 8” in diameter.
This has the look of Ficus trunks in my area:
Finally, the little one, with some spindly branchy bits, and some more leaves to help me identify it as most likely the Ficus microcarpa.
Now I can practice some resawing techniques on something a bit less pretty than the eucalyptus will likely be. I was disappointed when the telephone line repairmen cut free and spirited away a 4” diameter branch from the neighbor’s fig trees that was overhanging the space behind my lot, tempting me this past year. I was eventually going to cut it off to keep it from destroying my garage, and as a bonus I’d have a new species to machine that I’d not experienced yet. I was crestfallen when I came home from work to find that branch – and the linemen – gone. “Where and when am I ever going to find Ficus to play with now?” I wondered. I just got my answer. These things seem to go in waves.
I’ve read that fig tree wood is pretty weak, and decays rapidly, but I’m a major proponent of researching, then trying things out anyway. There’s just nothing like empirical evidence. I’ve surprised myself sometimes, learned a lot more than if I’d simply said “oh well nevermind then”, and it’s fun, regardless.
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator