Nabanga (Banyan) Vanuatu Meteorology & Geo-Hazard Department

Nabanga (Banyan)

  • These trees are traditionally used as cyclone shelters.
  • Nabanga can live over 500 years.
  • Nabanga sustain more wildlife than most other trees and can speed up rainforest regeneration.

Ficus obliqua

Nabanga are also known as Banyan Tree and Small-leaved Fig is native to eastern Australia, New Guinea, eastern Indoneasia to Sulawesi and islands in the south-western Pacific Ocean.

It starts its life growing either on other species or on rocks. Nabanga that grow on other plants, will eventually grow to encase, or strangle, the host tree. The aerial roots form stout pillars that resemble tree trunks and allow the tree to continue to expand as it ages. It can grow 15 – 60 m high with a similar width. The bark is smooth, thin, and grey and the trunk is buttressed and up to 3 m in diameter.


Glossy green, elliptic to oblong. 5-8 cm long and 2 – 3.5 cm wide. Channelled on the upper surface.


Tiny flowers arise from the inner surface of the fruit, known as an inverted inflorescence. Within any given fruit, the male flowers will mature several weeks after the female flowers.


The fruit are round with diameters of 6 – 10 mm. They grow in pairs, starting yellow and turning to orange to orange-red dotted with darker red.

  • First fully open flower
  • Less than half the tree is in full flower
  • More than half the tree is in full flower
  • All of the tree is in full flower
  • No flowering
  • Less than half the tree has fruit
  • More than half the tree has fruit
  • All of the tree has fruit
  • No fruit

When to Look

  • Fruit may appear at any time of year, with a peak in autumn and winter

Similar Species

Ficus obliqua may be confused with F. rubiginosa, however, F. obliqua has smaller fruit on shorter stalks and has hairless leaves (F. rubiginosa has fine hairs on its leaves).