Dye fig

Tahitian names

Mati (S, A, T)

Interesting facts

Mati is a kind of fig tree often saxicolous, meaning living naturally on rocks. It has aerial roots (see photo) and looks like a small banyan according to Teuria Henry (T. Henry, 2004). Fruits of mati are edible and are used for dyeing when they are associated with leaves of Tou (Cordia subcordata). This reddish dye is employed to paint "tapa" (bark clothes) or even the skin. These figs also have medicinal properties. Fibers from its bark is used to make ropes or nets for fishing, it is very resistant.



Biogeographical status

Polynesian introduction

Life form


Abundance on Tetiaroa

not common

Ecosystem on Tetiaroa

mixed forest

sources & credits

Barrau, 1971. Useful plants of Tahiti. Société des Océanistes, Paris, Dossier 8.

Butaud J.F., Gérard J., Guibal D., 2011. Guide des arbres de Polynésie française, bois et utilisations. 2e édition, Au vent des îles.&

Butaud J.F., 2013. Vallées tahitiennes, Guide floristique. Direction de l’environnement.

Jost X., Ansel J.L., Raharivelomanana P., Butaud J.F., 2016. Ethnobotanical survey of cosmetic plants used in Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia). Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.

Photo: Jean-Yves Hiro Meyer


S: Society | T: Tuamotu | M: Marquesas | G: Gambier | A: Australs | FP: French Polynesia