Food Plants International - Plant Fact Sheets Ficus carica - Fig
Edible portion: Fruit, Flowers, Leaves - flavouring
A fig. It is a low spreading deciduous tree with large leaves. It can grow to 10 m high. Trees are widely spreading with many branches. It has milky sap. The small branches are straight and strong. The leaves spread out like fingers on a hand with 3 or 5 lobes. The leaves are rough textured on the upper surface and downy underneath. The flowers are of one sex only. There are two sex forms - the caprifig and the fig. The caprifigs are dry and hard and develop 3 times a year. They harbour the fig wasp which itself goes through 3 different stages of its life cycle in these 3 fruit seasons. The "fruit" is a hollow receptacle with an opening at the tip. Inside this the flowers grow and mature. The true fruit develop inside this large receptacle. They are produced either singly or in pairs in the axils of leaves. Fruit colour can vary from black, brown, green and yellow. Wild figs have both male and female flower parts but cultivated figs have no male flower parts and the fruit develop without fertilisation for Adriatic figs but need a fig wasp for Smyrna figs. There are several hundred cultivated kinds of fig.
It suits tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions. It is native to S.W. Asia. It can stand light frosts once hardened. Of the very large number of figs in PNG, this one is introduced. It suits highland areas in the tropics with a lower rainfall. It produces better if rain is less at flowering. Good summer heat is necessary for sugar-rich fruit. Plants do best in heavy soil in well prepared sites. It needs a neutral pH. It has some salt tolerance. In Brisbane Botanical Gardens. In Nepal it grows to about 1200 m altitude. In some places it can grow up to 2,300 m above sea level. It suits hardiness zones 10-12. In Sichuan. In Yunnan.