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Family Moraceae
Balete
Ficus benjamina Linn.
WEEPING FIG

Chui ye rong

Common names   Common names  
Ficus benjamina Linn. Balete (Ilk., Tag.)  
Ficus comosa Roxb. Salisi (Is.)  
Ficus cuspidatocaudata Hayata. Benjamin's fig (Engl.)  
Ficus haematocarpa Blume ex Decne. Benjamin tree (Engl.)
Ficus lucida Aiton Small-leaved rubber plant (Engl.)
Ficus neglecta Decne. Weeping fig (Engl.)  
Ficus nepalensis Blanco Weeping laurel (Engl.)  
Ficus nitida Thunb.  
Ficus nuda (Miq.) Miq.  
Ficus papyrifera Griff.  
Ficus parviflora Oken  
Ficus pendula Link  
Ficus reclinata Desf.  
Ficus striata Roth.  
Ficus umbrina Elmer  
Ficus xavieri Merr.  
Urostigma benjaminum (L.) Miq.  
Urostigma haematocarpum (Bllume ex Decne) Miq.  
Urostigma nudum Miq.  
Worldwide there are over 800 species of the genus Ficus (Latin: fig) and of the more than 10 species found in the Philippines, Balete is a shared common name for six of them: (1) Ficus benjamina, salisi (2) Ficus elastica, Indian rubber tree (3) Ficus indica, baleteng-baging (4) Ficus payapa, payapa (5) Ficus retusa, marabutan, and (6) Ficus stipulosa, botgo.
Quisumbing's compilation lists Ficus benjamina (balete) and Ficus retusa (marabutan) as separate species. Some compilations list them as synonyms.
The Weeping Fig is the official tree of Bangkok, Thailand.
Ficus benjamina L. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BURMESE: Kyet kadut, Nyaung lun, Nyaung thabye.
CHINESE: Xi ye rong, Bai rong, Xiao ye rong, Chui rong, Chui ye rong.
DANISH: Birkefigen.
DUTCH: Wariengien (Dutch Indies).
GERMAN: Benjamin-Gummibaum, Birkenfeige.
JAPANESE: Shidare gajumaru.
MALAY: Beringin (Indonesia), Mendera, Waringin (Java, Sumatra).
NEPALESE: Conkar, Samii, Svaamii.
SANSKRIT: Mandara.
SERBIAN: Fikus benjamina, Bendžamin.
SPANISH: Árbol benjamín, Benjamina, Ficus benyamina, Matapalo.
SUNDANESE: Caringin.
TAMIL: Vellal.
THAI: Sai yoi, Sai yoi bai laem.
VIETNAMESE: Cây sanh, Sanh.

Gen info
- Worldwide there are over 800 species of the genus Ficus (Latin: fig) and of the more than 10 species found in the Philippines, Balete is a shared common name for six of them: (1) Ficus benjamina, salisi (2) Ficus elastica, Indian rubber tree (3) Ficus indica, baleteng-baging (4) Ficus payapa, payapa (5) Ficus retusa, marabutan, and (6) Ficus stipulosa, botgo.
- Weeping Fig is the official tree of Bangkok, Thailand.

Botany
Balete is a strangling, smooth plant, assuming a tree form and reaching a height of 15 meters or more. Branches are drooping. Leaves are leathery, oblong-ovate, 6 to 9 centimeters long, with prominent and rather slender point, rounded base, entire margins, smooth green and shining; the nerves slender and spreading, not prominent. Petioles are 5 to 10 millimeters long. Fruit is axillary, solitary, stalkless, dark-purple and fleshy when mature, somewhat spherical, and 1 centimeter in diameter.

Distribution
- From northern Luzon to Mindanao, in most islands and provinces, n primary forests at low and medium altitudes.
- In Manila, planted as avenue and shade tree.
- Also occurs in India to southern China, Malaya, northern Australia, and the islands of the South Pacific.

Constituents
- Bark contains 4.2 percent tannin.
- Latex contains
30% caoutchouc, along with 59% resin.
- Wax contains cerotic acid.
- Extraction of leaves, bark, and fruits yielded six compounds: cinnamic acid, lactose, naringenin, quercetin, caffeic acid and stigmasterol. (11)
- GC/MS analysis of essential oil yielded four compounds in stem and eight compounds in root. HPLC analysis yielded four phenolic compounds (chlorogenic p-coumaric, ferulic and syringic acids)
in roots, three (chlorogenic, p-coumaric, and ferulic acids) in stems, and one (caffeic acid) in leaves. (see study below) (15)
- Study of gum show major constituents of sucrose and d-glucose, constituting 60.92% of chemical constituents, while carboxylic acids (albietic acid 1.00%. hexadecanoic acid 4.41%, 9-octadecanoic acid 1.00%, stearic acid 3.01%, oleic acid 0.01%, octadecanoic acid 9.12%, and 6,13-pentacenequinone 20.43% accounted for the remaining constituents. (see study below) (18)

Properties
- Dermatitis and Allergic Reactions: Plant sap from all parts reported to cause minor skin irritation. Frequent contact may cause itching of the eyes, coughing, and wheezing. (4)
- Studies have suggested hepatoprotective, antibacterial, air-cleaning properties.

Parts utilized
Bark, root, leaves.

Uses
Folkloric
• Root, bark of root and leaves boiled in oil and applied on wounds and bruises.
• Latex used to seal minor wounds.
• Juice of bark used for liver diseases.

• Pounded leaves and bark applied as poultice for rheumatic headache.
• In Mindanao, the Higaonon tribe of Rogongon, Iligan City, decoction of roots of Ficus benjamina is drank three times daily for relief of muscle pains or fatigue (bughat) in women; also used as appetite stimulant. (12)
Others
Landscape: In Manila, used as an avenue and shade tree.
Rope: In the provinces, rope made from its bast.

Studies
Household Allergen: Ficus benjamina is a relatively common source of indoor household allergen, with a prevalence of sensitization similar to moulds. (1)
Allergic / Toxic Irritative: Study showed more complaints of asthmatic bronchitis, rhinoconjunctivitis and skin symptoms among gardeners handling Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) and Hedera helix (Ivy). (2)
Asthma / Weeping Fig / Cross-Reactivities: Study showed hypersensitivity to F. benjamina may cause IgE-mediated respiratory allergy. The association with allergy to fig and papains is likely due to cross-reactive allergen structures. (3)
Hepatoprotective: Study showed a hepatoprotective activity of an ethanolic extract of Ficus benjamina against CCl4-induced liver damage in rats. Silymarin was used as standard reference drug. (7)
Leaves as Indicator of Atmospheric Pollution: Study evaluated the suitability of Ficus benjamina leaves as a captor of heavy metal particles from atmospheric dusts in urban areas. Samples collected yielded values almost ten times higher than those obtained from unpolluted reference. (8)
Hypersensitivity to Ficus benjamina / Implications in Food Allergy: Study of exposure to Ficus benjamina and other Ficus species was documented in 101 (29%) of patients. Of the 22 with hypersensitivity to F. benjamina, 8 showed hypersensitivity to common edible fig, seven to kiwi and two to latex. Study concludes that both prevalence of exposure and sensitization to F. benjamina and presence of allergic manifestations in some patients should be a concern for the plant as an indoor allergen which may also have implications in food allergy. (9)
Cross-Reactivity / Latex and Fig Fruit: Allergic reactions to fresh or dried figs can present as a consequence of primary sensitization to airborne FB allergens independent of sensitization to rubber latex allergens. Other fruits like kiwi, papaya, avocado, pineapple, and banana may be associated with sensitization to Ficus allergens. (10)
Constituents / Antibacterial / Cytotoxicity: Leaves, bark, and fruits yielded six compounds: cinnamic acid, lactose, naringenin, quercetin, caffeic acid and stigmasterol. Caffeic acid showed strong cytotoxic activity against T-lymphoblastic leukemic (CEM-SS) cell line. The compounds showed antibacterial activity against B. cereus and P. oleaginous.(11)
Constituents / Antimicrobial / Antioxidant / Hemolytic: Study evaluated the antioxidant, antimicrobial, and hemolytic potential of stems, leaves, and roots of Ficus benjamina. All extracts and fractions were significantly rich in antioxidants and exhibited potent antimicrobial activity and substantial hemolytic activity. (see constituents above) (15)
Volatile Formaldehyde Removal by Indoor Plants: In the NASA Clean Air Study that evaluated the ability of certain common indoor plants to provide a natural way of removing toxic agents, Ficus benjamina was listed as having potential to eliminate significant amounts of formaldehyde, xylene and toluene. (16) Study evaluated the volatile formaldehyde removal capacity of entire plant, aerial parts, and root zone of Ficus benjamina and F. Napoleonic. In both species, the aerial parts reduced the formaldehyde concentration during the day but little during the night. Root removal was the same for day and night. The effectiveness of the root zone for formaldehyde removal was due primarily to microorganisms and roots (90%); only 10% through absorption by growing medium. (20)
Sub-Chronic Toxicity Study / Effect on Liver Functions / Leaves: Study evaluated the sub-chronic toxicity of ethanol extracts of leaves on liver function of white mice at doses of 200, 400, and 800 mg/kbw. Results showed the EE of leaves could significantly increase AST (p<0.05) at doses of 400 and 800 mg/kbw for 60 days, and significantly increase ALT (p<0.05) at dose of 800 mg/kbw. (17)
Gum Corrosion Inhibition Potential / Aluminum: Study evaluated the corrosion inhibition potential of Ficus benjamina gum for aluminum. Results showed the gum to be an active inhibitor against corrosion of aluminum in solutions of tetraoxosulphate (VI) acid. (see constituents above) (19)
Anthelmintic: Study evaluated the anthelmintic activity of Ficus benjamina figs against adult Indian earthworms Pheretima posthuma. Results showed dose dependent reduction in paralysis and death time. The methanol extract was most effective at 100 mg/kg and comparable to standard Piperazine citrate. (21)
Nanoparticle Synthesis: Study reports on the synthesis of silver nanoparticles from Ficus benjamina. Results showed F. benjamina is able to synthesize nanoparticles, and the addition of three different cocktails of polyphenols with similar absorbance values increases the efficiency of production. (22)

Availability
Wild-crafted.


Last Update August 2016

IMAGE SOURCE: PHOTOGRAPH / Ficus benjamina leaves / © 2016 TipsPlants.com / Non-commercial use / click on image to go to source page / © 2016 TipsPlants.com
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Ficus benjamina / File:Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) in Hyderabad, W IMG 8314.jpg / J M Garg / 13 July 2008 / GNU Free Documentation License / click on image to go to source page / Wikimedia Commons

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
Ficus benjamina, a new source of household environmental allergens / Alergol Inmunol Clin, July 1999 Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 203-208
(2)
The prevalence of skin and mucosal symptoms in gardeners handling Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) and Hedera helix (ivy). A cross-sectional study / Jørs E / Esbjerg Centralsygehus, Arbejdsmedicinsk Afdeling / Ugeskr Laeger. 2003 Sep 8;165(37):3526-9.
(3)
Asthma caused by Ficus benjamina latex : evidence of cross-reactivity with fig fruit and papain / Diez-Gomez M L, Quirce S, Aragoneses E and Cuevas M / Annual Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, San Diego, California, 1998, vol. 80, no 1, pp. 78-136
(4)
Poisonous Plants of North Carolina / Ficus benjamina / Weeping fig, Benjamin tree / Dr. Alice B. Russell, Department of Horticultural Science
(5)
Ficus benjamina L. (accepted name) / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
(6)
Sorting Ficus names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
(7)
Evaluation of hepatoprotective activity on the leaves of Ficus benjamina Linn. / Vinod Kumar Kanaujia*, R. Irchhaiya, H.K. Singh, Deepak Kailasiya, Mohini Verma, Rahul Deo Yadav, Dileep Shivhare / J. Nat. Prod. Plant Resour., 2011, 1 (3): 59-69
(8)
Ficus benjamina leaves as indicator of atmospheric pollution / Bertha Aguilar Reyes, Rubén Cejudo Ruiz, Juan Martínez-Cruz, Francisco Bautista, Avto Goguitchaichvili, Claire Carvallo, Juan Morales / Studia Geophysica et Geodaetica, July 2012, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 879-887
(9)
Hypersensitivity to Ficus benjamina / P. Gaig, B. Bartolomé*, E. Enrique, P. García-Ortega and R. Palacios / Alergol Inmunol Clin, Juy 1999 Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 212-217
(10)
Cross-reactivity between Ficus benjamina latex and fig fruit in patients with clinical fig allergy. / Focke M, Hemmer W, Wöhrl S, Götz M, Jarisch R. / Clin Exp Allergy. 2003 Jul;33(7):971-7.
(11)
The Chemical Constituents of Ficus benjamina Linn. and Their Biological Activities / Hassan Abdalla Almahyl, Mawardi Rabmani, Mohd Aspollah Sukari & Abdul Manaf Ali / Pertanika J. Sci. & Techno\. 11(1): 73 - 81 (2003)
(12)
Medicinal Plants Used by the Higaonon Tribe of Rogongon, Iligan City, Mindanao, Philippines / Lilybeth F. Olowa, Mark Anthony J. Torres, Eduardo C. Aranico and Cesar G. Demayo / Advances in Environmental Biology, 6(4): 1442-1449, 2012
(13)
Sorting Ficus names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
(14)
Ficus benjamina L. / Synonyms / The Plant List
(15)
Chemical composition and Biological studies of Ficus benjamina / Muhammad Imran, Nasir Rasool, Komal Rizwan, Muhammad Zubair, Muhammad Riaz, Muhammad Zia-Ul-Haq, Usman Ali Rana, Ayman Nafady, and Hawa ZE Jaafar / Chem Cent J. 2014; 8: 12. / doi: 10.1186/1752-153X-8-12
(16)
NASA Clean Air Study / Wikipedia
(17)
Sub-chronic Toxicity of Ficus Benjamina L. Leaves Ethanol Extract on the Liver Function of White Mice /
Syilfia Hasti, syilfiahasti, Enda Mora, Rahayu Utami, Lisni Ukrina Yulis / Procedia Chemistry, Volume 13, 2014, pp 204-208
(19)
Physicochemical Characterization and Corrosion Inhibition Potential of Ficus benjamina (FB) Gum for Aluminum in 0.1 M HCl / Nnabuk Okon EDDY, Paul Ocheje AMEH, Ali IBRAHIM / Walailak Journal of Science and Technology (WJST) Vol 12, No 12 (2015)
(20)
Efficiency of Volatile Formaldehyde Removal by Indoor Plants: Contribution of Aerial Plant Parts versus the Root Zone / Kwang Jin Kim, Mi Jung kill, Jeong Seob Song and Eun Ha Yoo / Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science--JASHS July 2008 vol. 133 no. 4 521-526
(21)
In-vitro anti-helminthic activity of figs extract of ficus benjamina; a potential hope / Rajinder Singh, Radhey S. Dhuria / Journal of Innovations in Pharmaceuticals and Biological Sciences: JIPBS, Vol 1 (1), 17-20 (2014)
(22)
Biosynthesis of Nanoparticles from Ficusbenjamina (Fig Tree) and comparing AgNP’s Synthesized by Cocktails of plant extracts / Ashish Jain*, Sanjeeb Kumar Mandal, Vanaja Nuthalapati, Abhinav Ramesh, Naisarg Modi, Sughosh Rao, and KM Jyoti Singh / International Research Journal of Biological Sciences, Vol. 3(5), 34-39, May (2014)

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