This fig occurs at rather higher altitudes than most others, growing mainly between 900 and 2200 m. It is a small deciduous tree and from its distribution would probably be more frost-tolerant than other figs. Near Lumle seedlings were damaged by unusually early snow, but shot again from the base. It will tolerate soils of high pH, for instance it grows in gullies on the old river terraces in Pokhara, and at Rautahari, in the Terai, was recorded on a soil with pH 6.8 in the topsoil, and 8-8.2 in the subsoil. As with most figs the seed is disseminated by birds, and groups of 20 or more seedlings have been found under thinned out pine plantations at Tistung. It is one of the species found in degraded Schima-Castanopsis forest after protection.
There are two types of figs, one with seed and one containing gall-flowers, occurring on different trees. The seed ripens between early June and mid-August, when the receptacles turn blue-black. There are about 1.6 million seeds kg-1. Laboratory germination was recorded at 41 per cent but in the field rates much lower than this have been recorded, with between 1000 and 14,000 plants raised from 1 kg of seed, the median being about 3500. Panday (1982) slates that the seed needs a certain period of dormancy before it will germinate, but this is not shown up in the nursery records. At altitudes between 700 and 1500 m seed sown in July or August will produce plantable stock by the onset of the next monsoon. At higher altitudes sowing should be in March or April, giving the seedlings a total of about 15 months in the nursery.
Harrison (1989) did some experiments on different proportions of soil and compost in the potting mixture. Seed was sown in August and the seedlings pricked out in October. When measured in June height and root-collar diameter steadily increased with the proportion of compost, from 31 cm and 0.49 mm with no compost, to 39 cm and 0.57 mm with 40 per cent compost. However the seedlings grown without compost would have been of plantable size, so in this particular case compost was unnecessary. Stumps from 15-month-old seedlings were planted successfully at Nagarkot (1850 m). They were raised by pricking out plants from germination trays into beds at 20 cm x 15 cm, and cutting them to 3 cm stem and 12 cm root. These stumps put out an average of five new shoots each after planting; multiple stems are an advantage in a fodder tree. Satisfactory results were also obtained from the use of large bare-root seedlings, raised in beds in the same way. They were 78 cm high two months before planting, and transported with their roots packed in soil. Heavy grazing damage prevented more detailed assessment (Paudel, 1990). Propagation by hardwood cuttings is possible if proper techniques are used, and at Chalnakhel 47 per cent of cuttings taken in March rooted successfully. Farmers traditionally propagate F. neriijolia by the use of large cuttings 150-200 cm long. According to Panday (1982) propagation by air layering is also possible.
Various trials have been made of different planting methods. At Pakhribas in 1980 trials were made of planting at the ends of February, April, June, July, August and September. There were no significant differences in survival and height, or increment from the seedlings planted in the different months, but the lowest survival rate, 76 per cent, was obtained from February planting. In the same year trials were also made of bare-root planting in July, and there was no significant difference between the survival and increment rates of bare-root plants and those raised in polypots. All the trials were at about 1800 m. The year 1980/81 was considered to be particularly favourable climatically (P.R. Pradhan, 1982). Until similar results are obtained elsewhere standard practices of planting in the monsoon should be continued; however, the results quoted previously confirm that in some circumstances properly prepared bare-root plants can be successful. A number of trials of the use of fertilizers and compost have been made. In general there has been a positive response to fertilizer; for instance at Thulo Sirubari, 25 or 50 g of Complexol (20:20:0) per tree increased height growth at the age of 3.5 years from 1.0 to 1.6 and 1.7 m, and survival from 75 to 84 and 85 per cent, respectively. However compost had even better results on survival (91 per cent) and similar results on height growth (R. Shakya, 1991). This response to fertilizer is not universal however, and there are instances where use of fertilizer has depressed growth. Planting under the shelter of other trees, particularly pines, is beneficial.
Ficus neriifolia grows rather more rapidly than most figs, but not as fast as F. semicordata. At Chalnakhel (1370 m) on a weeded, cultivated site with fertilizer added it was 1.9 m high at 18 months. Other reasonably good growth rates were 1.6 mat 28 months at Kadambas (1500 m) and 1.5 mat 30 months at Tistung (1900 m) (under shelter of pine). On poorer sites or with less care 60 cm at two years and 70 cm at three years would be common growth rates.
Its main use is for fodder. The leaves fall between mid-February and mid-April, and the new flush appears between April and mid-June. They have about 13 per cent crude protein, ranging from 11.8 per cent in the October-February dry period through 12.8 per cent in the monsoon to 13.9 per cent in spring (March-April) (Subba and Tamang, 1990). The tannin content is moderate, peaking in November, January and February (Wood et al., 1992). In India it is said that saponin in the leaves may cause haematuria (R.Y. Singh, 1982), and farmers in Dhading District say that eating them may cause a health hazard, especially in May and June.
The trees are lopped for fodder from January to February and again from May to June after the flush of new leaves has appeared. The estimated annual dry weight fodder yields are 18, 34 and 74 kg, from trees 20, 30 and 40 cm in diameter respectively (T. J. Wonnald et al., 1983). Its popularity and Importance vary between different districts. In Dolakha District, it is the second commonest but most popular fodder species, and the one most in demand for planting (Robinson and Neupane, 1988). In Salle village, Dhankuta District, every farmer had some trees, and the average number was 35 per farm, but the demand for trees for planting was less, only 12 per cent of farmers taking seedlings; in their planting they had 90 per cent survival. In Lalitpur District it is mainly important above 1500 m, and between 1250 and 1500mon south-facing slopes, with April the most important lopping period (Upton, 1990). In Dhading it is used, but is not one of the most important species; trees in the forest there are more important than trees from farmers' own land. It is also used, but on a rather small scale, in Ratanpuri, Bara District (Upadhyay, 1991).