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Edible fig.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Ficus carica

Figs on a branch.jpg

The fig is a deciduous fruit tree, and sometimes known as a large shrub. It is native to Western Asia and Northern Africa. It grows wild in sunny and dry areas, but requires a certain type of wasp to pollinate it. The tallest tree reaches about 30 feet high. Figs are commonly eaten dried but are also made into tasty treats such as Fig Newtons.

Body Design

Fig Tree

The fig tree only reaches 10 to 30 feet high, making it one of the smaller trees. The trunk will usually grow less than 7 inches in diameter. The fig tree's shallow and spreading root system allows the roots to spread out and cover up to 50 feet of ground 20 feet down. The fig tree has palmate leaves.[2] Palmate means that the lobes radiate from a common center.[3] The leaves can have 3 to 7 lobes. The fig's fruit is pear shaped and grows 1-4 inches. The fruit color can range from yellowish-green to coppery, bronze, or dark-purple, but the purple figs are most commonly eaten.

Life Cycle

The fig tree has a rare symbiotic relationship with a specific wasp called the fig wasp. Fig wasps are wasps from the family Agaonidae. These wasps pollinate fig trees. Fig flowers are inverted flowers. They store their pollen inside the fruits. In order to pollinate the fruits. The fig wasp burrows inside the figs to lay its eggs. When the eggs hatch, the females get covered with pollen. The female wasps then fly to another fruit to lay their eggs, fertilizing the plant. When the female wasps goes inside the fruit to lay the eggs, her wings get ripped off and she dies. The dead female fig wasp is then digested by special enzymes inside the fig. The fig tree flowers and produces fruit.[4]


Native status of figs in the United States

The fig can grow wild in all areas that are dry and sunny and have deep and fresh soil. Figs are known and grown throughout the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern region including Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, northern India, and also in other areas, such as: United States, south-western British Columbia in Canada, Durango, Nuevo León and Coahuila in northeastern Mexico, as well as areas of Argentina, Australia, Chile, Peru, and South Africa.These are some places where figs are grown and eaten. [5]

Fig as a FOOD

An example of a food containing figs

Ficus carica is not called the Edible Fig for nothing! The delicate purple fruit is eaten all over the world. About 90% of the figs produced in the world are dried. When preparing to dry them, the figs are allowed to partially dry on the tree until they fall off. The ten percent of figs not dried are picked when they droop, are soft and are wilted slightly at the neck of the fig. Figs are sometimes processed into paste and jellies. A common snack in the United States is Fig Newtons. In the late 1800's a man named Charles M. Roser created the fig newton recipe and sold it to the Kennedy Biscuit Works. The Kennedy Biscuit Works later became known as Nabisco. The cookies were named after the Massachusetts town, Newton, which was close by the Kennedy Biscuit Works. They were a soft biscuit filled with yummy fig jam.[6]