I love everything about figs. They are the fruit of the season, the fruit about which I am always happy to expound. The tree's life cycle is one of my favorites—a thrilling tale of life, death, sex, and captivity—and they're impossible to avoid in Southern California, particularly now. Ficus trees are a leitmotif in the landscape, and their fruits have been ripening in the late summer heat.
On the mainland, celebrities get a Hollywood star; in Hawai'i, it's a tree on Banyan Drive. I drove through the trees on a recent visit to the island, dashing out of the car to stand under the towering trees and photograph the painted nameplates. Hawai'ian landscapes are defined by their plants, and so it's entirely fitting that the island catalogs its stars with this ribbon of trees.
In any landscape, the Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla) would be hard to miss. The tree's deep buttressing roots creep across the earth, a wide canopy sweeps the sky, and long arms of woody aerial roots cover the distance between. Older trees reach tremendous sizes, like those introduced in California in the early 1900s, and which are now local treasures in San Diego, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica.