Fig tree

Origin and habitat of the fig tree

The fig tree, scientifically called ‘ficus carica’, is a plant of the ‘moraceae’ family belonging to the ‘ficus’ genus. It is a xerophilous variety, that is, suitable for growing in environments with a very arid climate. Among the plants of the ficus type it is the most Nordic and should not be confused with the genus ‘ficus palmata’ which instead comes from Arab countries. The name ficus carica seems to derive from the region of origin of the plant in Asia Minor, Caria. The fig tree has been known since ancient times and was cultivated mainly in Egypt and Palestine. From here it then spread to most of the countries bordering the Mediterranean and in some areas of the Caucasus and the Black Sea. Currently the fig tree is planted for ornamental purposes but also for the production of its fruits.

Fig tree texture

As for the structure of the fig tree, the plant can reach a maximum height of 8-10 meters and has a fairly short trunk with a mostly wrinkled, dark gray and often gnarled bark. From the trunk then open a whole series of robust branches that form a thick and flattened crown. The leaves, on the other hand, are thick, large in size and have three or five well-defined lobes. They have a nice dark green and are slightly hairy on the underside. What we commonly consider the fig fruit is actually a kind of sugary inflorescence called syconium whose color can vary between bright green and dark blue. The real fruit of the tree is instead made up of the small seeds present inside the figs.

How to grow the fig tree

Growing the fig tree does not require special attention or difficulty. The plant adapts mostly to the warm and temperate climates typical of the Mediterranean area. On the contrary, it hardly tolerates the harsh cold of winter and below freezing the plant can suffer heavy damage to the branches and buds. The ideal soil in which to plant the fig tree is fresh, fertilized and well-drained potting soil but poorer, stony potting soil will do as well. As for irrigation, the tree must be watered constantly in the summer and more rarely in the cold months. Pruning, on the other hand, is to be avoided as it will be enough to remove a few dry leaves. Finally, it is good to remember that the plant gives us its fruits in two periods of the year: in May and in August.

Fig tree: Curiosities about figs

From the fig tree we collect the delicious fruits that we are used to finding on our tables. The fig is in fact a fleshy fruit rich in sugar that can be eaten fresh or dry. Dried figs are in fact the syconia harvested ripe and dried in the sun and are mostly produced in the regions of Southern Italy such as Campania, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily. A very valuable variety of dried figs is also the ‘Smyrna fig’ and Turkey is one of the largest producers in the world of this type of dried fruit. The fig, however, has important beneficial properties and eaten fresh it acts as an excellent laxative. Dried figs, on the other hand, are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, calcium and have a soothing and expectorant effect.

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