Difference between Ficus religiosa and Ficus saxophila

Compare Ficus religiosa and Ficus saxophila Leaves

Ficus religiosa and Ficus saxophila are two different species, they are so similar that they are almost indistinguishable if you just glance at them. However, both have special characteristics that each other does not have.

Ficus religiosa is a species of fig native to India, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Assam, Bangladesh, the Eastern Himalayas, Malaya, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. Meanwhile, Ficus saxophila is native to Southeast China, Christmas Island, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, the Lesser Sunda Islands, Malaya, Indonesia (Java, Maluku, Sulawesi), and New Guinea.

Ficus religiosa is known and respected by Hindus and Buddhists. According to history, Siddharta Gautama, or the first Buddha received enlightenment (called Bodhi) while meditating under the Ficus religiosa tree. Therefore, this tree is called the Bodhi Tree throughout the world. Unlike the Ficus saxophila, this tree is not generally known and is often confused by confusing it with the Ficus religiosa. In Indonesia, Ficus saxophila is called by the local name Abar which refers to its sticky, glue-like sap. Although Ficus religiosa also has sap that is just as sticky.

In the plant trade, Bodhi trees are quite popular because many Hindus and Buddhists (including plant fans) want to keep this tree in their yard or in a pot to put on the terrace. Its large, heart-shaped, green leaves and long pendulous tails make it very beautiful to look at. On the other hand, the Abar tree which is very similar to Bodhi is not in demand. Maybe because of historical factors.

This is what triggers naughty traders to market Abar trees under the name Bodhi.


INFO: Ficus rumphii, which is called Rumph’s Fig and has similar leaves, also adds to the confusion with Ficus religiosa.


If you are confused about the differences between Bodhi and Abar trees, here Names of Tree will provide information about both which you can use as a benchmark when you want to buy or relocate a native Ficus religiosa.


Because of the seller’s dishonest behavior, many people plant Ficus saxophila and consider it Ficus religiosa.



Difference between Ficus religiosa and Ficus saxophila


Difference between Ficus religiosa and Ficus saxophila
Photo credit: Sogellizer


Leaf Shape

The shapes of Bodhi and Abar leaves are very similar but can be distinguished by their shape carefully. The leaf shape of Ficus religiosa is rounder compared to Ficus saxophila which is more lanceolate.

Leaf Texture

Leaf texture can only be differentiated on older leaves, Ficus religiosa has a stiffer and rougher leaf texture, while Ficus saxophila is limp and tends to be slippery.

Bark Color

The easiest difference between the Bodhi tree and the Abar tree, apart from the leaves, is the color of the bark. The bark of Ficus religiosa on young trees is reddish gray to light gray. This is different from the color of the Ficus saxophila bark, which is dark brown to black.

Apart from that, in adult Ficus religiosa trees, when the trunk is rubbed, it will shed flakes such as very thin and short brown fine hair. Meanwhile, Ficus saxophila does not.

That is the difference between Ficus religiosa and Ficus saxophila that we can inform you about. If you are still curious about the differences between the two, you must have both to be able to differentiate them directly.

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