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Overview

Brief Summary

Ficus carica, the common fig or fig tree, is a deciduous shrub or small tree in the Moraceae (mulberry family) that originated in the Mediterranean, was domesticated over 6,000 years ago as one of the most ancient fruit crops; it was diversified into numerous cultivars, and is now grown in temperate regions worldwide for its delicious “fruits” and unique pollination system. The fig is not actually an individual fruit, but is a synconium--a type of specialized hollow, fleshy branch or receptacle with numerous flowers forming into fruits inside of it, generally after cross-pollination with a tiny fig wasp Blastophaga psenes.

The fig is a many-branched shrub or small tree, to 3 to 9 m (10 to 30 ft) tall, but rarely reaching diameters of more than 17.5 cm (7 in). The trunk and branches contain large amounts of milky white latex, like various other Ficus species, including F. elastica, which was formerly used as a source of latex for rubber. The leaves are alternate, thick, and palmately, with 3 to 7 deep dissections, each coarsely toothed. Leaves are up to 25 cm (10 long), with a scabrous (rough) upper surface, and pubescent (soft hairy) underneath. The synconium (fruiting structure) that grows in the axils (where leaf meets stem) may range in color from yellow to green to purple to bronze on the outside, with 30 to 1600 tiny flowers inside.

Some female fruits may develop without pollination, but others require pollination with male fig flowers, or cross-pollination, in order to develop. Pollination occurs in a tightly coevolved interaction with only one species of specialized fig wasp, which crawls inside a small hole in the tip of the syncomium. The female wasp lay eggs inside the receptacle then dies, but the offspring generally complete their lifecycles, hatching into larvae, pupating, and emerging as adults, that leave the syncomium as the fruit ripens. The seeds that develop are embedded in a fleshy wall, which turns sweet and juicy when the “fruit” is ripe.

Figs, which are high in carbohydrates, vitamin K, and are a good source of minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese, are eaten fresh or dried. They are used in numerous dessert and baked goods, as well as jams, and preserves, as well as in some savory and meat dishes.

FAO estimates that 2010 commercial production of figs was 1.1 million metric tons worldwide, harvested from 376,186 hectares. Turkey and Egypt are the leading producers, together accounting for around 40% of the total, followed by Algeria, Iran, and Morocco. The U.S. ranks 7th for production

F. carica has been known to escape cultivated plantings and gardens, and is considered introducted in several U.S. states, including California, Florida, North and South Carolina, and Massachusetts, and southeastern states ranging from Alabama to Texas. Although it may persist outside cultivation, it is not generally considered an aggressive invader.

(Bailey et al. 1976, FAO 2012, FNA 2012, Morton 1987, van Wyk 2005.)

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Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats, Cultivated, Native of Mediterranean Region"
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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Range Description

Widespread in Central Asia, Iran, and the Caucasus. The list of countries of occurrence is incomplete.
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"Maharashtra: Ahemdnagar, Pune, Satara Karnataka: Mysore Tamil Nadu: Dindigul, Nilgiri"
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Distribution in Egypt

Nile region, oases, Mediterranean region, Egyptian desert and Sinai (St.Katherine).

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Global Distribution

Mediterranean region, Southwest Asia.

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introduced; Calif., Fla., Mass., N.C., S.C.; Mexico; West Indies; native to Asia.
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Worldwide distribution

Mediterranean countries eastwards to Iraq; widely cultivated elsewhere
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Distribution: Cultivated and subspontaneous in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan; Russia, Iran, Middle East, N. Africa and Europe; introduced in cultivation elsewhere.
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Grows well in middle mountain,middle latitude area

Grows in Lausanne, Switzerland at 660m asl as a shrub

  • Marcello Zini
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

A large shrub to small deciduous tree, 5-9 m tall with several spreading branches from a short, rough trunk. Bark smooth, grey or dull white, young twigs glabrous or softly hairy. Leaves with glabrous to tomentose up to 12 cm long grooved petiole; lamina variable in shape and size, broadly ovate to nearly orbicular, (4-) 5-15 (-20) cm long, (3.5-) 5-15 (-18) cm broad, undivided or obscurely palmatifid to mostly palmatipartite, lobes spathulate with entire to apically few-dentate margin, 5-costate at the cordate base, margins undulate-dentate or dentate-crenate, acute to ± obtuse, scabrous above, densely soft hairy beneath especially on nerves, lateral nerves 6-8 (-9) pairs, intercostals ascending-parallel; stipules ovate-lanceolate, 10-12 mm long, hairy to glabrescent Hypanthodia axillary solitary or paired, borne on upto 3 cm long peduncles, pyriform to globose, 1.5-2 cm in diameter, subsessile to sessile, subtended by 3, broadly deltoid basal bracts, apical orifice closed by 4-5, broadly deltoid, ciliate imbricate bracts. Male flowers: sepals usually 4, united, lobes lanceolate; stamens 4, filaments long with oval, exserted anthers. Female flowers: pedicellate, sepals 4, lobes lanceolate-oblong: ovary with lateral style, stigma entire or 2-fid. Figs usually pyriform-obovoid, 2-5 (-8) cm in diameter, glabrous or shortly hispid, yellowish to brownish violet.
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Description

Shrubs, 3-10 m tall, many branched. Bark grayish brown, distinctly lenticellate. Branchlets straight, strong. Stipules red, ovate-lanceolate, ca. 1 cm. Leaves alternate; petiole strong, 2-5 cm; leaf blade broadly ovate, usually with 3-5 ovate lobes, 10-20 × 10-20 cm, thickly papery, abaxially densely covered with small cystoliths and short gray pubescence, adaxially scabrous, base ± cordate, margin irregularly toothed; basal lateral veins 2-4, secondary veins 5-7 on each side of midvein. Figs axillary on normal leafy shoots, solitary, purplish red to yellow when mature, pear-shaped, large, 3-5 cm in diam., apical pore concave, sessile; involucral bracts ovate. Male flowers: near apical pore; calyx lobes 4 or 5; stamens (1 or)3(-5). Gall flowers: style lateral, short. Female flowers: calyx lobes 4 or 5; ovary ovoid, smooth; style lateral; stigma 2-branched, linear. Achenes lenslike. Fl. and fr. May-Jul.
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Description

Shrubs or small trees , deciduous, to 5 m. Roots not adventitious. Bark grayish, slightly roughened. Branchlets pubescent. Leaves: stipules 1-1.2 cm; petiole 8-20 cm. Leaf blade obovate, nearly orbiculate, or ovate, palmately 3-5-lobed, 15-30 × 15-30 cm, base cordate, margins undulate or irregularly dentate, apex acute to obtuse; surfaces abaxially and adaxially scabrous-pubescent; basal veins 5 pairs; lateral veins irregularly spaced. Syconia solitary, sessile, green, yellow, or red-purple, pyriform, 5-8 cm, pubescent; peduncle ca. 1 cm; subtending bracts ovate, 1-2 mm; ostiole with 3 subtending bracts, umbonate.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Shrub
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Cultivated and naturalized.

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Disturbed sites; 0-300m.
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Habitat & Distribution

Cultivated. throughout China [native to the Mediterranean region eastward to Afghanistan].
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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Auricularia mesenterica is saprobic on dead, decayed wood of Ficus carica

Foodplant / pathogen
fluffy colony of Botrytis dematiaceous anamorph of Botrytis cinerea infects and damages live twig (base) of Ficus carica

Foodplant / pathogen
gregarious, immersed pycnidium of Phomopsis coelomycetous anamorph of Diaporthe cinerascens infects and damages cankered twig (base) of Ficus carica
Remarks: season: spring, summer

Foodplant / sap sucker
Homotoma ficus sucks sap of Ficus carica

Foodplant / pathogen
Tubercularia anamorph of Nectria cinnabarina infects and damages branch of Ficus carica
Remarks: season: 1-12

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering spring-summer.
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Life Expectancy

Perennial.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Ficus carica

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ficus carica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 11
Specimens with Barcodes: 15
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2007

Assessor/s
Participants of the FFI/IUCN SSC Central Asian regional tree Red Listing workshop, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (11-13 July 2006)

Reviewer/s
Newton, A. & Eastwood, A. (Global Tree Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
A widespread species with a large extent of occurrence. Population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population size criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., less than 10,000 mature individuals in conjunction with appropriate decline rates and subpopulation qualifiers). Population trend has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the threshold for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, it is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Wikipedia

Common fig

The common fig (Ficus carica) is a species of flowering plant in the genus Ficus, from the family Moraceae, known as the common fig (or just the fig), انجیر (Urdu), அத்தி (Tamil), anjeer (Hindi), dumur (Bengali), תאנה (Hebrew) and تين (Arabic). It is the source of the fruit also called the fig, and as such is an important crop in those areas where it is grown commercially. Native to the Middle East and western Asia, it has been sought out and cultivated since ancient times, and is now widely grown throughout the temperate world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant.[1][2]

Description[edit]

It is a gynodioecious (functionally dioecious),[3] deciduous tree or large shrub, growing to a height of 7–10 metres (23–33 ft), with smooth white bark. Its fragrant leaves are 12–25 centimetres (4.7–9.8 in) long and 10–18 centimetres (3.9–7.1 in) across, and deeply lobed with three or five lobes. The complex inflorescence consists of a hollow fleshy structure called the syconium, which is lined with numerous unisexual flowers. The flower itself is not visible outwardly, as it blooms inside the infructescence. Although commonly referred to as a fruit, the fig is actually the infructescence or scion of the tree, known as a false fruit or multiple fruit, in which the flowers and seeds are borne. It is a hollow-ended stem containing many flowers. The small orifice (ostiole) visible on the middle of the fruit is a narrow passage, which allows the specialized fig wasp Blastophaga psenes to enter the fruit and pollinate the flower, whereafter the fruit grows seeds. See Ficus: Fig pollination and fig fruit.

The edible fruit consists of the mature syconium containing numerous one-seeded fruits (druplets).[3] The fruit is 3–5 centimetres (1.2–2.0 in) long, with a green skin, sometimes ripening towards purple or brown. Ficus carica has milky sap (laticifer). The sap of the fig's green parts is an irritant to human skin.[4]

Habitat[edit]

Variegated fig
Ficus bud.JPG
Leaves and immature fruit of common fig

The common fig tree has been cultivated since ancient times and grows wild in dry and sunny areas, with deep and fresh soil; also in rocky areas, from sea level to 1,700 meters. It prefers light and medium soils, requires well-drained soil, and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Like all fig trees, Ficus carica requires wasp pollination of a particular species of wasp (Blastophaga psenes) to produce seeds. The plant can tolerate seasonal drought, and the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean climate is especially suitable for the plant. Situated in a favorable habitat, old specimens when mature can reach a considerable size and form a large dense shade tree. Its aggressive root system precludes its use in many urban areas of cities, but in nature helps the plant to take root in the most inhospitable areas. Common fig tree is mostly a phreatophyte that lives in areas with standing or running water, grows well in the valleys of the rivers and ravines saving no water, having strong need of water that is extracted from the ground. The deep-rooted plant searches groundwater, in aquifers, ravines, or cracks in the rocks. The fig tree, with the water, cools the environment in hot places, creating a fresh and pleasant habitat for many animals that take shelter in its shade in the times of intense heat.

Ecology[edit]

Ficus carica is dispersed by birds and mammals that scatter their seeds in droppings. Fig fruit is an important food source for much of the fauna in some areas, and the tree owes its expansion to those that feed on its fruit. The common fig tree also sprouts from the root and stolon issues.

The infructescence is pollinated by a symbiosis with a kind of fig wasp (Blastophaga psenes). The fertilized female wasp enters the fig through the scion, which is a tiny hole in the crown (the ostiole). She crawls on the inflorescence inside the fig and pollinates some of the female flowers. She lays her eggs inside some of the flowers and dies. After weeks of development in their galls, the male wasps emerge before females through holes they produce by chewing the galls. The male wasps then fertilize the females by depositing semen in the hole in the gall. The males later return to the females and enlarge the holes to enable the females to emerge. Then some males enlarge holes in the scion, which enables females to disperse after collecting pollen from the developed male flowers. Females have a short time (<48 hours) to find another fig tree with receptive scions to spread the pollen, assist the tree in reproduction, and lay their own eggs to start a new cycle.

History[edit]

The edible fig is one of the first plants that was cultivated by humans. Nine subfossil figs of a parthenocarpic (and therefore sterile) type dating to about 9400–9200 BC were found in the early Neolithic village Gilgal I (in the Jordan Valley, 13 km north of Jericho). The find predates the domestication of wheat, barley, and legumes, and may thus be the first known instance of agriculture. It is proposed that this sterile but gustatively desirable type was planted and cultivated intentionally, one thousand years before the next crops were domesticated (wheat and rye).[5]

Figs were also a common food source for the Romans. Cato the Elder, in his De Agri Cultura, lists several strains of figs grown at the time he wrote his handbook: the Mariscan, African, Herculanean, Saguntine, and the black Tellanian (De agri cultura, ch. 8). The fruits were used, among other things, to fatten geese for the production of a precursor of foie gras.

It was cultivated from Afghanistan to Portugal, also grown in Pithoragarh in the Kumaon hills of India. From the 15th century onwards, it was grown in areas including Northern Europe and the New World.[1] In the 16th century, Cardinal Reginald Pole introduced fig trees to Lambeth Palace in London.

Cultivation[edit]

Small fig tree

The common fig is grown for its edible fruit throughout the temperate world. It is also grown as an ornamental tree, and the cultivar 'Brown Turkey' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[6]

Figs can be found in continental climates with hot summers as far north as Hungary and Moravia, and can be harvested up to four times per year. Thousands of cultivars, most named, have been developed as human migration brought the fig to many places outside its natural range.

Two crops of figs are potentially produced each year.[7] The first or breba crop develops in the spring on last year's shoot growth. In contrast, the main fig crop develops on the current year's shoot growth and ripens in the late summer or fall. The main crop is generally superior in both quantity and quality to the breba crop. However, some cultivars produce good breba crops (e.g., 'Black Mission', 'Croisic', and 'Ventura').

There are basically three types of edible figs:[8]

  • Persistent (or common) figs have all female flowers that do not need pollination for fruiting; the fruit can develop through parthenocarpic means. This is a popular horticulture fig for home gardeners. Dottato (Kadota), Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Brunswick, and Celeste are some representative cultivars.
  • Caducous (or Smyrna) figs require cross pollination by the fig wasp with pollen from caprifigs for the fruit to mature. If not pollinated the immature fruits drop. Some cultivars are Smyrne (Lob Incir in Turkey) - (Calimyrna in the Great Central Valley USA), Marabout, Inchàrio, and Zidi.
  • Intermediate (or San Pedro) figs set an unpollinated breba crop, but need pollination for the later main crop. Examples are Lampeira, King, and San Pedro.

The fig likes dry sunny sites, the soil dry or drained. Excessive growth has to be limited to promote the fruiting. It thrives in both sandy and rocky soil. As the sun is really important it is better to avoid shades. Some varieties are more adapted to harsh and wet climates.

Propagation[edit]

Figs plants are easy to propagate through several methods. Propagation using seeds is not the preferred method since vegetative methods exist that are quicker and more reliable, that is, they do not yield the inedible caprifigs. However, those desiring to can plant seeds of dried figs with moist sphagnum moss or other media in a zip lock bag and expect germination in a few weeks to several months. The tiny plants can be transplanted out little by little once the leaves open, and despite the tiny initial size can grow to 1 foot (30 cm) or more within one year from planting seeds.

Main vegetative propagation, or spring propagation: before the tree starts growth, cut 15–25 cm (6–10 inch) shoots that have healthy buds at their ends, and set into a moist mix of soil and peat-moss located in shade in first time, buried 3/4 of their length. Larger diameter stems are better – intermediate cuttings on branches can be done too (up to diam. 3/4") – but in this case the upper side must be cut inclined, thus marking the upper part, to avoid planting upside-down. Grow one year in a nursery, in a pot or in-ground spaced one foot apart, till winter. Before the plant starts growth, plant it in the desired final location.

For propagation in the mid-summer months, air layer new growth in August (mid-summer) or insert hardened off 15–25 cm (6-10 inches) shoots into moist perlite or a sandy soil mix, keeping the cuttings shaded until new growth begins; then gradually move them into full sun. For spring propagation, before the tree starts growth, cut 15–25 cm (6-10 inches) shoots that have healthy buds at their ends, and set into a moist perlite and/or sandy soil mix located in the shade. Once the cuttings start to produce leaves, bury them up to the bottom leaf to give the plant a good start in the desired location.

An alternative propagation method is bending over a taller branch, scratching the bark to reveal the green inner bark, then pinning the scratched area tightly to the ground. Within a few weeks, roots will develop and the branch can be clipped from the mother plant and transplanted where desired.

Cultivars[edit]

  • 'Alma'
  • 'Brown Turkey'
  • 'Celeste'
  • 'Desert King'
  • 'Ealy Violet'
  • 'Flanders'
  • 'Genao'
  • 'hardy Chicago'
  • 'Italian White'
  • 'Italian Black'
  • 'Italian Honey'
  • 'Jurupa'
  • 'King'
  • 'Larme de Jaune'
  • 'Marseilles vs Black'
  • 'Negra'
  • 'Orourke'
  • 'Pop's Purple
  • 'Quantico'
  • 'Smith'
  • 'Texas Everbearing'
  • 'Violette de Bordeaux
  • 'Wuhan'
  • 'Yede Vern'
  • ' Zidi'
  • 'Kadota': used in fig rolls, dries well
  • 'Marseilles': also known as 'Blanch'
  • 'Mission': black, sweet, commonly dried
  • 'Timla in Kumaon'

Mountain fig[edit]

Anjeer Kohi
Mountain fig tree in Zibad

Mountain fig or rock fig (called "Anjeer Kohi" in Persian) is a wild fig, naturally growing in the rocky mountainous area of the Kavir desert of Iran, especially in the Khorasan Mountains of Kohestan.

Mountain fig

The only difference between the mountain fig and other figs is its tolerance of dry and cold climates. It usually does not need any irrigation and is able to survive extremely dry weather and temperatures of −40 °C (−40 °F). The most productive and the oldest mountain fig trees are located in the Zibad mountains.

Culinary use[edit]

Figs, dried, uncooked
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,041 kJ (249 kcal)
63.87 g
Sugars47.92 g
Dietary fiber9.8 g
0.93 g
3.3 g
Vitamins
Thiamine (B1)
(7%)
0.085 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(7%)
0.082 mg
Niacin (B3)
(4%)
0.619 mg
(9%)
0.434 mg
Vitamin B6
(8%)
0.106 mg
Folate (B9)
(2%)
9 μg
Choline
(3%)
15.8 mg
Vitamin C
(1%)
1.2 mg
Vitamin K
(15%)
15.6 μg
Trace metals
Calcium
(16%)
162 mg
Iron
(16%)
2.03 mg
Magnesium
(19%)
68 mg
Manganese
(24%)
0.51 mg
Phosphorus
(10%)
67 mg
Potassium
(14%)
680 mg
Sodium
(1%)
10 mg
Zinc
(6%)
0.55 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, and used in jam-making. Most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed forms, since the ripe fruit does not transport well, and once picked does not keep well. The widely produced fig newton or fig roll is a biscuit (cookie) with a filling made from figs.

Nutrition[edit]

"Schiocca": calabrian dried figs

Figs are among the richest plant sources of calcium and fiber. According to USDA data for the Mission variety, dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs. They have smaller amounts of many other nutrients. Figs have a laxative effect and contain many antioxidants. They are a good source of flavonoids and polyphenols[9] including gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, syringic acid, (+)-catechin, (−)-epicatechin and rutin.[10] In one study, a 40-gram portion of dried figs (two medium size figs) produced a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity.[11]

Cultural aspects[edit]

Fresh figs cut open showing the flesh and seeds inside

In the Book of Genesis in the Bible, Adam and Eve clad themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7) after eating the "forbidden fruit" from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Likewise, fig leaves, or depictions of fig leaves, have long been used to cover the genitals of nude figures in painting and sculpture. Art collectors and exhibitors often added these depictions long after the original work was completed. The use of the fig leaf as a protector of modesty or shield of some kind has entered the language.

The Book of Deuteronomy specifies the fig as one of the Seven Species (Deuteronomy 8:7-8), describing the fertility of the land of Canaan. This is a set of seven plants indigenous to the Middle East that together can provide food all year round. The list is organized by date of harvest, with the fig being fourth due to its main crop ripening during summer.

Also in the Bible (Matthew 21:18–22 and Mark 11:12–14, 19–21) is a story of Jesus finding a fig tree when he was hungry; the tree only had leaves on it, but no fruit. Jesus, then, curses the fig tree, which withers.

The biblical quote "each man under his own vine and fig tree" (1 Kings 4:25) has been used to denote peace and prosperity. It was commonly quoted to refer to the life that would be led by settlers in the American West, and was used by Theodor Herzl in his depiction of the future Jewish Homeland: "We are a commonwealth. In form it is new, but in purpose very ancient. Our aim is mentioned in the First Book of Kings: 'Judah and Israel shall dwell securely, each man under his own vine and fig tree, from Dan to Beersheba".[12] US President George Washington, writing in 1790 to the Touro Synagogue of Newport, Rhode Island, extended the metaphor to denote the equality of all Americans regardless of faith.[13]

Buddha achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree, a large and old sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa, or Pipal).

Sura 95 of the Qur'an is named al-Tīn (Arabic for "The Fig"), as it opens with the oath "By the fig and the olive." The fruit is also mentioned elsewhere in the Qur'an. Within the Hadith, Sahih al-Bukhari records Prophet Muhammad stating: "If I had to mention a fruit that descended from paradise, I would say this is it because the paradisiacal fruits do not have pits...eat from these fruits for they prevent hemorrhoids, prevent piles and help gout."[14]

In Greek mythology, the god Apollo sends a crow to collect water from a stream for him. The crow sees a fig tree and waits for the figs to ripen, tempted by the fruit. He knows that he is late and that his tardiness will be punished, so he gets a snake from the stream and collects the water. He presents Apollo with the water and uses the snake as an excuse. Apollo sees through the crow's lie and throws the crow, goblet, and snake into the sky where they form the constellations Hydra, Crater, and Corvus.

In Aristophanes' Lysistrata one of the women boasts about the "curriculum" of initiation rites she went through to become an adult woman (Lys. 641–7). As her final accomplishment before marriage, when she was already a fair girl, she bore the basket as a kanephoros, wearing a necklace of dried figs.[15]

Top Fig Producing Countries - 2012
(in metric tonnes)
RankCountryProduction
(Tonnes)
1 Turkey274,535
2 Egypt171,062
3 Algeria110,058
4 Morocco102,694
5 Iran78,000
6 Syria41,224
7 United States35,072
8 Brazil28,010
9 Albania27,255
10 Tunisia25,000
World1,031,391
Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization [16]

In the course of his campaign to persuade the Roman Republic to pursue a third Punic War, Cato the Elder produced before the Senate a handful of fresh figs, said to be from Carthage. This showed its proximity to Rome (and hence the threat), and also accused the Senate of weakness and effeminacy: figs were associated with femininity, owing to the appearance of the inside of the fruit.[17]

The word "sycophant" comes from the Greek word sykophantes, meaning"one who shows the fig". "Showing the fig" was a vulgar gesture made with the hand.[18]

Dried figs

The fig tree is sacred to Dionysus Sukites (Συκίτης).

Since the flower is invisible, there are various idioms related to it in languages around the world. In a Bengali idiom as used in tumi yēna ḍumurēr phul hay.ē gēlē (তুমি যেন ডুমুরের ফুল হয়ে গেলে), i.e., 'you have become (invisible like) the fig flower (doomurer phool)'. The derisive English idiom I don't care a fig probably originates from the abundance of this fruit. There is a Hindi idiom related to flower of fig tree, गूलर का फूल (gūlar kā phūl i.e. flower of fig) means something that just would not ever see i.e. rare of the rarest[19] In Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh state of India apart from standard Hindi idiom a variant is also used; in the region it is assumed that if something or work or job contains (or is contaminated by) flower of fig it will not get finished e.g. this work contains fig flower i.e. it is not getting completed by any means.

Gular ka phool (flower of fig) is a collection of poetry in written in Hindi by Rajiv Kumar Trigarti.[20]

There is also a poem in Telugu written by Yogi Vemana, which says "Medi pandu chuda melimayyi undunu, potta vippi chuda purugulundunu", It means—"The fig fruit looks harmless but once you open you find tiny insects [refers to the fig wasp] in there". The phrase is synonymous to an English phrase—"Don't judge a book by its cover".

Picture gallery[edit]

Leaf & FruitFruitThe ExpulsionCross-section

Common fig - leaves and green figs.jpg

Ficus carica0.jpg

Masaccio-TheExpulsionOfAdamAndEveFromEden-Restoration.jpg

Feige-Schnitt.jpg

Leaves and green fruit on common fig tree

Common fig fruit

The Expulsion from the Garden of Edenfresco depicting a distressed Adam and Eve, with and without fig leaves, by Tommaso Masaccio, 1426–27

Cutaway-section displaying the fruit anatomy

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b The Fig: its History, Culture, and Curing, Gustavus A. Eisen, Washington, Govt. print. off., 1901
  2. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  3. ^ a b Wayne's Word: Sex Determination & Life Cycle in Ficus carica
  4. ^ Purdue University: Horticulture & Landscape Architecture. Fig, Ficus carica.
  5. ^ Kislev et al. (2006a, b), Lev-Yadun et al. (2006)
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Ficus carica 'Brown Turkey'". Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  7. ^ California Rare Fruit Growers: Fig
  8. ^ North American Fruit Explorers: Figs.
  9. ^ Vinson (1999)
  10. ^ Phenolic acids and flavonoids of fig fruit (Ficus carica L.) in the northern Mediterranean region. Robert Veberic, Mateja Colaric and Franci Stampar, Food Chemistry, Volume 106, Issue 1, 1 January 2008, pages 153–157, doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2007.05.061
  11. ^ Vinson et al. (2005)
  12. ^ Old New Land by Theodor Herzl [1] Old New Land
  13. ^ http://www.tourosynagogue.org/index.php/history-learning/gw-letter
  14. ^ "Foods of the prophet". IslamOnline. 
  15. ^ κἀκανηφόρουν ποτ’ οὖσα παῖς καλὴ ‘χους’ / ἰσχάδων ὁρμαθόν.
  16. ^ "Production of Fig by countries". UN Food & Agriculture Organization. 2011. Retrieved 2013-08-23. 
  17. ^ "BBC iPlayer - In our time: the destruction of Carthage". Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  18. ^ [2] Online Etymology Dictionary
  19. ^ बालुरघाट में दिखा गूलर का विस्मयकारी फूल, Sep 20, 11:39 pm (Hindi version), (Translated version)
  20. ^ Gular ka phool by Rajiv Kumar Trigarti

References[edit]

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Common fig

The Common fig (Ficus carica) is a large, deciduous shrub or small tree native to southwest Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region (from Afghanistan to Greece). It grows to a height of 6.9–10 metres (23–33 ft) tall, with smooth grey bark. The leaves are 12–25 centimetres (4.7–9.8 in) long and 10–18 centimetres (3.9–7.1 in) across, and deeply lobed with three or five lobes. The fruit is 3–5 centimetres (1.2–2.0 in) long, with a green skin, sometimes ripening towards purple or brown. The sap of the fig's green parts is an irritant to human skin.[1]

Contents

Cultivation and uses

Fresh figs cut open showing the flesh and seeds inside

The Common Fig is widely grown for its edible fruit throughout its natural range in the Mediterranean region, Iran and northern India, and also in other areas of the world with a similar climate, including Louisiana, California, Oregon, Texas, South Carolina, and Washington in the United States, Nuevo León and Coahuila in northeastern Mexico, as well as Australia, Chile, and South Africa. Figs can also be found in continental climate with hot summer, as far north as Hungary, and can be picked twice or thrice per year. Thousands of cultivars, most unnamed, have been developed or come into existence as human migration brought the fig to many places outside its natural range. It has been an important food crop for thousands of years, and was also thought to be highly beneficial in the diet.

The edible fig is one of the first plants that was cultivated by humans. Nine subfossil figs of a parthenocarpic type dating to about 9400–9200 BC were found in the early Neolithic village Gilgal I (in the Jordan Valley, 13 km north of Jericho). The find predates the domestication of wheat, barley, and legumes, and may thus be the first known instance of agriculture. It is proposed that they may have been planted and cultivated intentionally, one thousand years before the next crops were domesticated (wheat and rye).[2]

Figs were also a common food source for the Romans. Cato the Elder, in his De Agri Cultura, lists several strains of figs grown at the time he wrote his handbook: the Mariscan, African, Herculanean, Saguntine, and the black Tellanian (De agri cultura, ch. 8). The fruits were used, among other things, to fatten geese for the production of a precursor of foie gras.

Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, and used in jam-making. Most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed forms, since the ripe fruit does not transport well, and once picked does not keep well.

Production statistics

Fig output in 2005
Fig, dried, uncooked
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,041 kJ (249 kcal)
Carbohydrates63.87 g
Sugars47.92 g
Dietary fiber9.8 g
Fat0.93 g
Protein3.30 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1)0.085 mg (7%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2)0.082 mg (5%)
Niacin (Vit. B3)0.619 mg (4%)
Pantothenic acid (B5)0.434 mg (9%)
Vitamin B60.106 mg (8%)
Folate (Vit. B9)9 μg (2%)
Vitamin C1.2 mg (2%)
Calcium162 mg (16%)
Iron2.03 mg (16%)
Magnesium68 mg (18%)
Phosphorus67 mg (10%)
Potassium680 mg (14%)
Zinc0.55 mg (6%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

FAO reports the 2005 fig-production was 1,057,000 tonnes; Turkey was the top fig-producer (285,000 tonnes), followed by Egypt (170,000 tonnes) and other Mediterranean countries.

Aydın, İzmir and Muğla region, which used to be called antique Caria region, are the top fig-producers in Turkey.



Cultivars

  • Alma
  • Brown Turkey
  • Celeste
  • Italian black
  • Italian white
  • Kadota: used in Fig Newtons, dries well
  • Lemon Fig: also known as Blanch, or Marseilles
  • Mission: black, sweet, commonly dried.
Dried figs

Nutrition

Figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. According to USDA data for the Mission variety, dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs. They have smaller amounts of many other nutrients. Figs have a laxative effect and contain many antioxidants. They are good source of flavonoids and polyphenols.[3] In one study, a 40-gram portion of dried figs (two medium size figs) produced a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity.[4]

Pollination, fruit, and propagation

Although commonly referred to as a fruit, the fig fruit is actually the flower of the tree, known as an inflorescence (an arrangement of multiple flowers), a false fruit or multiple fruit, in which the flowers and seeds grow together to form a single mass. The genus Dorstenia, also in the fig's family (Moraceae), exhibits similar tiny flowers arranged on a receptacle but in this case the receptacle is a more or less flat, open surface. The flower is not visible, as it blooms inside the fruit. The small orifice (ostiole) visible on the middle of the fruit is a narrow passage, which allows a very specialized wasp, the fig wasp, to enter the fruit and pollinate the flower, whereafter the fruit grows seeds. See Ficus: Fig pollination and fig fruit.

Two crops of figs are potentially produced each year.[5] The first or breba crop develops in the spring on last year's shoot growth. In contrast, the main fig crop develops on the current year's shoot growth and ripens in the late summer or fall. The main crop is generally superior in both quantity and quality than the breba crop. However, some cultivars produce good breba crops (e.g., Black Mission, Croisic, and Ventura).

There are basically three varieties of common figs:[6]

  • Caducous (or Smyrna) figs require pollination by the fig wasp and caprifigs to develop crops. Some cultivars are Calimyrna, Marabout, and Zidi.
  • Persistent (or Common) figs do not need pollination; fruit develop through parthenocarpic means. This is the variety of fig most commonly grown by home gardeners. Adriatic, Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Brunswick, and Celeste are some representative cultivars.
  • Intermediate (or San Pedro) figs do not need pollination to set the breba crop, but do need pollination, at least in some regions, for the main crop. Examples are Lampeira, King, and San Pedro.

Figs plants are easy to propagate through several methods. Propagation using seeds is not the preferred method since vegetative methods exist that are quicker and more reliable (that is, they do not yield the inedible caprifigs).

For propagation in the mid-summer months, air layer new growth in August (mid-summer) or insert hardened off 15–25 cm (6-10 inches) shoots into moist perlite or a sandy soil mix, keeping the cuttings shaded until new growth begins; then gradually move them into full sun. An alternative propagation method is bending over a taller branch, scratching the bark to reveal the green inner bark, then pinning the scratched area tightly to the ground. Within a few weeks, roots will develop and the branch can be clipped from the mother plant and transplanted where desired.

For spring propagation, before the tree starts growth, cut 15–25 cm (6-10 inches) shoots that have healthy buds at their ends, and set into a moist perlite and/or sandy soil mix located in the shade. Once the cuttings start to produce leaves, bury them up to the bottom leaf to give the plant a good start in the desired location.

Cultural aspects

In the Book of Genesis in the Bible, Adam and Eve clad themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7) after eating the "forbidden fruit" from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Likewise, fig leaves, or depictions of fig leaves, have long been used to cover the genitals of nude figures in painting and sculpture. Often these fig leaves were added by art collectors or exhibitors long after the original work was completed. The use of the fig leaf as a protector of modesty or shield of some kind has entered the language.

The biblical quote "each man under his own vine and fig tree" (1 Kings 4:25) has been used to denote peace and prosperity. It was commonly quoted to refer to the life that would be led by settlers in the American West, and was used by Theodor Herzl in his depiction of the future Jewish Homeland{{"We are a commonwealth. In form it is new, but in purpose very ancient. Our aim is mentioned in the First Book of Kings: 'Judah and Israel shall dwell securely, each man under his own vine and fig tree, from Dan to Beersheba'.[7]'}}.

There is a chapter in the Quran named after the fig tree, and the fruit is also mentioned in Qur'an in many places. The Quran mentioned figs and then the Prophet Muhammad [s] stated, "If I had to mention a fruit that descended from paradise, I would say this is it because the paradisiacal fruits do not have pits...eat from these fruits for they prevent hemorrhoids, prevent piles and help gout."[8]

Since the flower is invisible, there is a Bengali idiom as used in tumi jeno dumurer phool hoe gele, i.e., you have become (invisible like) the dumur flower. The derisive English idiom I don't care a fig probably originates from the abundance of this fruit.

In Greek mythology, the god Apollo sends a crow to collect water from a stream for him. The crow sees a fig tree and waits for the figs to ripen, tempted by the fruit. He knows that he is late and that his tardiness will be punished, so he gets a snake from the stream and collects the water. He presents Apollo with the water and uses the snake as an excuse. Apollo sees through the crow's lie and throws the crow, goblet, and snake into the sky where they form the constellations Hydra, Crater, and Corvus.

In Aristophanes' Lysistrata one of the women boasts about the "curriculum" of initiation rites she went through to become an adult woman (Lys. 641–7). As her final accomplishment before marriage, when she was already a fair girl, she bore the basket as a kanephoros, wearing a necklace of dried figs.[9]

Cato the Elder was a Roman statesman who urged the Romans to the Third Punic War to destroy Carthage. Before the Senate, he produced a handful of fresh figs, said to be from Carthage. This showed its proximity to Rome (and hence the threat)—figs are also associated with femininity (due to the appearance of the inside of the fruit), and an insult may have been intended.[10]

The word "sycophant" actually means "showing the figs" (derived by the Greek words σῦκον, sýkon, "fig", and φαίνω, phaínō, "to show") and was used in ancient Athens for those who informed against another for exporting figs (which was forbidden by law), or for stealing the fruit of the sacred fig-trees, whether in time of famine or on any other occasion (Plutarch, Life of Solon, 24, 2.). Figs from Attica were especially prized and were a valuable export commodity. As a result, Athens had decreed that the very profitable fig business was to be a state monopoly and all fig growers were obliged to sell their entire produce to the state. Falsely accusing someone of clandestine transactions with figs was therefore a convenient way to slander them before the courts.[citation needed]

The fig tree is sacred to Dionysus Sukites (Συκίτης). The Indian fig tree, Ficus bengalensis, is the National Tree of India.[11]

Picture gallery

Leaf & FruitFruitThe ExpulsionCross-section

Common fig - leaves and green figs.jpg.jpg

Ficus carica0.jpg

Masaccio-TheExpulsionOfAdamAndEveFromEden-Restoration.jpg

Feige-Schnitt.png

Leaves and green fruit on common fig tree

Common Fig fruit

The Expulsion from the Garden of Edenfresco depicting a distressed Adam and Eve, with and without fig leaves, by Tommaso Masaccio, 1426-27

Cutaway-section displaying the fruit anatomy

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Purdue University: Horticulture & Landscape Architecture. Fig, Ficus carica.
  2. ^ Kislev et al. (2006a, b), Lev-Yadun et al. (2006)
  3. ^ Vinson (1999)
  4. ^ Vinson et al. (2005)
  5. ^ California Rare Fruit Growers: Fig
  6. ^ North American Fruit Explorers: Figs.
  7. ^ Old New Land by Theodor Herzl [1] Old New Land
  8. ^ "Foods of the prophet". IslamOnline. http://www.islamonline.net/english/Science/2000/6/article3.shtml.  The Quote by prophet Muhammad is from Bukhari.
  9. ^ κἀκανηφόρουν ποτ’ οὖσα παῖς καλὴ ‘χους’ / ἰσχάδων ὁρμαθόν.
  10. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00hdd5x/In_Our_Time_The_Destruction_of_Carthage/ bbc.co.uk
  11. ^ National Tree : India [2] india.gov.in

References

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Ficus carica is known to escape in Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia, although no specific localities are documented. 

 Ficus carica was first known from Caria in southwestern Asia. It is cultivated for its edible fruit and becomes established outside of cultivation only sporadically in the United States. It can sometimes be found persisting around old habitations and old orchards.

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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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This species was introduced to China during the Tang Dynasty (618–906 CE) and is grown particularly in Xinjiang for its edible fruit.
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