A fig tree that took root on an Ayrshire riverbank despite its tropical origins has been saved from the chop.

The fruit-bearing tree in Kilmarnock has thrived for at least 100 years although it is believed to date back even further.

Locals feared contractors clearing vegetation from the banks of the Kilmarnock Water in the town were going to cut it down.

But East Ayrshire Council had moved to protect the historic tree, growing out of a wall and known as the Mystery Fig.

Figs are native throughout the tropics and southwest Asia into the Mediterranean area. The Kilmarnock example is thought to date from the 19th century or beyond.

The Ayrshire Live app is available to download now.

Get all the local news in your area – plus features, football news and the latest on the coronavirus crisis – at your fingertips 24/7.

The free download features the latest breaking news and exclusive stories while you can customise your page with the sections that matter to you.

The Ayrshire Live app is available to download now on iOS and Android.

They have been grown in the UK but usually only hardy varieties under specific conditions, including against sunny walls.

Theories about the tree's origins range from a seed lodged in the wall crevice by a bird or carried with sewage in a flood, but nobody is certain.

Local historian Frank Beattie said: "It seems that the fig tree was there in the 1920s, though that doesn't really help determine when it was first noted on that site.

"It has been there a long time but just how long, I don't know. It's assumed that a fig became lodged in a crevice during a flood and took root.

"I'm not entirely convinced by this because of the height of the crevice the tree is growing from. Perhaps the seed was lodged there by a bird."

Mr Beattie added: "It's been growing vigorously this year and has been known to produce figs when the weather is right."

Remarkably, a second, smaller fig tree is growing out of the same riverbank further downstream in the town.

A spokeswoman for East Ayrshire Council said: "The council can confirm that the fig tree on Sandbed Street, Kilmarnock, will not be removed."

Don't miss the latest Ayrshire headlines –sign up to our free daily newsletter here