Characteristics of Common Fig Tree (Ficus carica) in the Wild

Ficus carica
The Fig tree or Common fig is a plant species native to Asia and belonging to the Mulberry family, known as Fig. The tree is an important crop and is often cultivated for commercial purposes.

Fig tree originates from the Middle East and West Asia, the tree has been sought and propagated since ancient times and is now widely planted in all regions of the world, either for fruit harvesting or as an ornamental tree.

In ancient times, planting fig trees was mostly done in high locations (1,500-1,700 m asl), dry, sunny, and with fertile soil.

Fig trees prefer less dense, well-drained soil. Unlike other fig species that can grow in poor soil, Fig trees cannot grow in poor soil such as chemicals, lime, or salt.

Although it cannot grow in poor soil, the Fig tree can withstand drought and hot climate conditions such as in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The hot weather and dry soil become a very suitable habitat for the growth of Fig trees.

Fig trees can also grow in slightly moist soil, such as in rice fields, riverbanks, and in damp ravines.

If the fig tree is planted in spacious soil (not in a pot), it can grow to a fairly large size. Its aggressive root system makes it a sturdy tree when it grows into a large tree. Just like the trees of the other Ficus family such as the Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa) and Chinese Banyan (Ficus microcarpa), anything around it can be destroyed by its roots. Large fig trees are not recommended for planting in areas close to buildings or roads.

The tree is very shady when it grows up to cool the hot environment around it grows, thus providing a fresh and pleasant habitat for the many animals that take shelter under its shade.

Mountain fig or Rock fig is a wild Fig tree variety that is tolerant of cold dry climates. The origin of the wild fig tree is from dry rocky mountainous areas in Iran, especially in the Kohestan Mountains.

The Fig tree fruit was one of the first fruit plants cultivated by humans. The nine species of Fig tree ranging from the first known to date from around 9,400-9,200 BC, were found in the Neolithic village of Gilgal I (in the Jordan Valley, 13 km north of Jericho). This finding predates the domestication of wheat and legumes and thus may become the first known example of agriculture.

Apart from being cultivated throughout the tropical world, the Fig tree is also used as an ornamental tree in the UK, to be precise the ‘Brown Turkey’ and ‘Ice Crystal’ cultivars (due to its unusual foliage) and has received a Garden Merit Award from the Royal Horticultural Society’s.

Not only in England, but Fig trees are also planted in Germany, especially in private fields in agricultural greenhouse areas (to avoid winter). The Palatine Region, in Southwestern Germany, has about 80,000 Fig trees. There are only a few varieties of a Fig tree that can be grown in subtropical areas, they are Brown Turkey, Martinsfeige, and Lussheim. Even though they still need a greenhouse for shelter when winter comes.


Characteristics of Fig Tree Leaf

Ficus carica Leaf
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The foliage is fragrant, 12-25 cm long, 10-18 cm wide, and with 3 or 5 lobes.

The fig tree inflorescences are complex, consisting of a hollow fleshy structure of the “syconium” denomination, which is covered with many different flowers.

The flowers are not visible outside the syconium because they bloom inside the infructescence.


Characteristics of Fig Tree Fruit

Ficus carica Fruit
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Although commonly called a “fruit”, the fig tree is an infructescence, known as a “fake fruit”, which contains flowers and seeds.

The fig tree has a stem tip that is often filled with flowers. The small hole, denominated “ostiole”, visible in the center of the fruit is a narrow passageway, which allows wasps or bees (Blastophaga psenes) to pollinate flowers.

The edible fruit consists of a ripe syconium which contains many seeds, which are called “druplets”. The fruit is 3-5 cm long, with green skin which when ripe becomes purple or brown.


Characteristics of Fig Tree

Ficus carica Tree
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The fig tree grows as a large deciduous tree, it can be up to 10 meters tall, with smooth white bark.

Every part of the Fig tree, except the fruit, has a milky white sap, which makes it a laticifer. It can irritate human skin and cause phytophotodermatitis because it contains an organic chemical compound called furanocoumarin.

There are thousands of Fig tree cultivars that have been described and given names. Black Mission, Croisic, and Ventura cultivars are those that produce the best fruit.


Thanks to research in modern times, Fig tree fruit has been widely used as a processed material for making food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals.


Fig trees can be propagated by seedling or by vegetative methods. Vegetative propagation is faster and more reliable.

Although many fig tree cultivators do the vegetative method, the method for sowing seeds is easy. The seeds from the fruit germinate very quickly in humid conditions and warm temperatures.


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