Esse pé de planta tem uma história intrigante
Maybe the only specimen in Brazil today. Asian, native of the Philippine Islands, it was classified by Francisco Manuel Blanco (1778-1845). This plant has an intriguing story: when I taught landscape classes at the School of Fine Arts of UFRJ, I showed the students the plants and, preferably, identified them. In the case of Ficus, I frequently appealed to the "sp." (a term used when one knows the genus and ignores the species). It was a Ficus sp. here, another Ficus sp. there, until a more demanding student complained. I then proceeded to take to the field the precious book of Professor Jorge Pedro Pereira Carauta. Every time we came upon a fig tree, we tried to identify it based on its teachings, among which I found the first news about the present star. The mere mention of it’s name causes a shock to those who know a minimum of botany. How could it be possible for a Ficus to look like (pseudo) a palm (palma)? The book reported that there was one in the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro (JBRJ). We went there. It was close to the works of implementing a play-ground and, to be honest, if it was a Dracaena it would perhaps be insignificant, but as a Ficus... it was a shock! I told Roberto Burle Marx about it. "How is that?" was his reaction. I explained what I had just learned and he - it could not be otherwise - became very interested.
Coming back to JBRJ with another class, around 1985, I had the unpleasant surprise of seeing that the very rare Ficus no longer existed. I commented to Roberto and he came instantly to a state of almost furious indignation.
Our late master died in 1994. In 1995 I was loaned by UFRJ to be director of the SRBM and, some three years later, when I walked through a place that I passed every day, I saw something I could hardly believe. There it was, in the forest, camouflaging amid other foliage, half drawn by the lack of direct sunlight, stretching upwards, already 8 meters high, but without chance to surpass its competitors, a Ficus pseudopalma!
We did the most, in terms of pruning, to make room for that preciousness. Professor Benjamin Ernani Diaz, who would become advisor to the Sítio (author, in partnership with Professor Carauta, of the book Figueiras no Brasil - Editora UFRJ, 2002), confirmed - it was it, indeed.
A mystery remains: Roberto planted and forgot it or did he not know yet its name? When? Where did it come from? Who brought it to the Sítio Roberto Burle Marx?