Edible fig

Edible Fig

Common name Edible Fig
Botanical name Ficus carica
Family Moraceae
Natural range Europe and Asia
Mature height to 6m
Form Broad spreading, twiggy limbs
Likes Hot, dry weather
Dislikes Cold weather
Where to plant Backyard
Known for Tasty fruits

What Makes Fig Trees So Special?

The world of fruit trees offers many fascinating species, but the fig tree or Ficus carica, stands out with its own charm. A native to the Mediterranean and western Asia, it enjoys the prestigious status of being among the earliest plants cultivated by humans. One bite of its sweet fruit transports you back in time, to ancient civilizations that first discovered its delight.

Why is the Fig Tree Popular Worldwide?

The fig tree has spread its roots far beyond its native lands, becoming a global sensation. Many countries with European immigrant histories, such as Australia, warmly welcome this tree. In older suburbs, you’re likely to spot fig trees planted by immigrants, nurturing a piece of home in a foreign land.

What’s the Size and Form of a Fig Tree?

These small to medium-sized deciduous trees grow up to a maximum of 10 metres. They flaunt distinctive three to five deep-lobed leaves that offer more than just aesthetic appeal. Fig leaves often make their way into culinary exploits, adding a unique twist to dishes. The fruits are an irresistible offering of sweet, reddish flesh encapsulated in a tear-shaped green skin. As they ripen, they may adopt a purple or brown hue. Here’s a tip straight from an enthusiast: refrigerate your figs for an enhanced taste experience!

Is the Sap from the Fig Tree Harmful?

Picking figs requires a careful approach, given the irritant nature of the milky sap that the green parts produce. Contact with this sap, followed by exposure to UV light, can trigger phytophotodermatitis, a severe skin inflammation. So remember to exercise caution while harvesting these tasty treats!

What’s the Best Way to Enjoy Figs?

Though we commonly refer to it as a fruit, the actual flower of the fig tree is tucked inside the succulent ball. The seeds are the true fruits. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, you can enjoy fresh figs from January through Easter. Enjoy them fresh, dry them for later, or incorporate them into numerous recipes. However, ripe figs are not long-lasting once picked and don’t travel well, leading to dried figs being a more common sight commercially.

How to Care for Fig Trees in Winter?

Fig trees, particularly those in the US, have a unique winter care routine, a practice brought in by Italian immigrants. Cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Toronto, where winters can be harsh, have adopted this unique method. It involves digging a trench suitable to the tree’s size, pruning part of the root system, and bending the tree into the trench. The tree is then wrapped in waterproof material to prevent mould and fungus and covered with a layer of soil and leaves. This process may seem intense, but the reward comes in the form of delicious figs when the warmer seasons roll around!

Some Extra Fig Tree Facts
  1. The fig tree belongs to the Moraceae family, which includes other well-known species such as the rubber plant and the mulberry tree.
  2. Fig trees can live up to 200 years!
  3. In many cultures, fig trees are symbols of abundance, fertility, and sweetness.
  4. The fig tree has significant cultural and religious symbolism in many societies. It’s mentioned in the Bible, the Quran, and ancient Greek and Roman mythology.
Dig Deeper into the World of Fig Trees
  1. The Fig: Its History, Culture, and Curing
  2. Fig trees in the Home Garden
  3. Fig Varieties: A Guide to Different Types
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