- Species: Big-leaved Fig (ficus vivens), Chinese Banyan (ficus microcarpa)
- Old and valuable tree listing: LCSD CW/8
- Location: Pok Fu Lam Playground
I have been spending a lot of time on Pok Fu Lam Road recently and have gotten to know many esteemed trees in the area, such as the ‘Chaos Monster‘, ‘the Guardian‘, ‘the Gentle Giant, ‘the Three Brothers‘, and others, but this particular Big-leaved Fig inside the Pok Fu Lam Road Playground still impresses.
Another member of Hong Kong’s ‘Old and valuable tree’ registry, this massive Big-leaved Fig is located at the ‘rear’ entrance of the Playground, which borders on one side, the busy thoroughfare that is Pok Fu Lam Road and on the other, an offshoot of the main road that is also called Pok Fu Lam Road that siphons off the main street from the intersection of Smithfield Road, where the ‘gentle giant‘ grows. This particular tree is located just inside the entrance from the lesser of the two Pok Fu Lam Roads.
Like other mature samples of its species, this elder is very well built, with several huge arms that reach up into the air. This one also bears some severe scars from its years. There is evidence that at least two main trunks were lobbed off, leaving prominent stumps on one side of the tree. Higher up on the canopy, there were more scars, where obvious attempts have been made to control its canopy.
All those cuts and bruises have done little to dwarf the majesty of this tree, giving it the character and aura of a combat veteran, like a General that has seen many a battle in its years.
Then there is its army. If you scan around the Playground, you will see a massive forest of (relatively) young Chinese Banyans, which stand at attention in the southern garden. There are plenty of Chinese Banyans in Hong Kong, but rarely do they congregate in a forest such as these, which form a formidable army in support of the general.
Lastly, if you head out the same entrance of the General, turn left toward the North, then you get another special treat. Just before the park’s ground ends, there are three middle-age ‘lieutenants’ that also keep vigil for the elder General. With their extended limbs, these three Chinese Banyans will escort you out from the area, like bouncers and bodyguards.