Forest 3 - Common fig


Ficus carica

Ficus carica fruit on tree in Forest 3 Ficus carica tree in Forest 3

Cultivars planted

'Brown Turkey', 'Black Genoa', 'Preston Prolific', 'White Genoa' and 'White Adriatic'

Other common names

Apulian fig

Origin of the species name

Ficus is the Latin name for the edible fig tree; carica comes from Latin and Greek for a kind of fig

Family

Moraceae

Date planted

August 2009 and 2010

Lifespan

Mature trees become less productive as they age but can live for 100 years.

General description

This is a small upright deciduous tree with smooth silvery grey bark. The branches droop as the tree gets older and the leaves are deeply lobed. The fruit varies in colour from yellowish-green to coppery bronze to dark-purple, which is represented by the different cultivars planted at the Arboretum. Height 8m. Spread 5m.

Natural distribution and habitat

Ficus carica is native to south western Asia and the eastern Mediterranean where it grows in woods and scrub in well-drained rocky areas of the Mediterranean region that have mild winters and hot dry summers.

Conservation status

The species is not classified as threatened but effort is being made to conserve the genetic variation that exists in some of the naturally occurring populations. As much of this variation exists in cultivars of low economic value there has been limited interest in conserving them.

Uses

It is one of the first plants cultivated by humans and its cultural history is extensive. Common figs were used as a food crop approximately 1000 years before wheat and oats. It is now widely grown throughout the world for its edible fruit. Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, and are extensively used in jam-making. Adam and Eve are said to have clad themselves with fig leaves and they have long been used to cover the nude figures in paintings and sculptures. Several parts of the fig, including the latex, the fruits and the leaves have been used for a wide range of medicinal purposes.

Planting pattern

The figs are planted in lines around an elongated triangle.

Further reading

Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins.