Edible Fig - Ficus Carica

The Edible Fig tree (Ficus Carica) is, as it´s name quite obviously suggests, the source of edible figs. This is not to say that it is the only member of the Ficus genus with edible fruit, there are several others. Rather it is the fruit of this tree that is widely commercialized as "figs" and used to make fig cookies, fig bread, fig liqueur, dried figs etc. There are several varieties of this tree widely cultivated in Southern Europe. One produces dark purple colored figs and the other green figs. Both of these taste pretty much the same in my opinion.

In the picture above you can appreciate how the figs grow on the branches at the base of new leaf stems. Not all of these reach maturity as some will get knocked off or be eaten birds or other hungry critters. When the figs are detached from the branch there is a white milky liquid that "bleeds" from the spot where the fruit was connected.

Unlike most "figs" (members of the ficus genus) the Ficus Carica is a deciduous tree (leaves turn color in autumn and fall off leaving the tree bare all winter). The images above and below show the typical leaf shape in summer and in fall. These are fairly large leaves that measure 8-10 inches (24cm) across. The leaf presents rather pronounced lobes with a palmate venation (3-5 main veins).
The image below is of a typical fig tree in the courtyard of an Andalusian "finca" located not far from the city of Antequera. This tree can be climbed to harvest the fruit but with great care as the branches break easily producing damage to the tree and possible harm to the person who could fall while reaching for the ripe fruit.

The picture below is of the biggest Ficus Carica that I have seen yet. It is located on the outskirts of the town of Yunquera in Southern Spain in an area that has multiple fresh water springs. My own estimates are that this tree is about 4-5 feet in diameter at the base, about 60-70 feet tall and probably 400-500 years old.

5 comments:

  1. That old fig tree is unbelievable! I had no idea that fig trees lasted that long. I wonder if it still produces fruit, or do the crops taper off with age?
    Aiyana

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful fig tree in Spain!!! Thank you for sharing!! I am writing a fig posts today and saw yours as I was searching for the largest fig tree. wow!

    ReplyDelete
  3. There is one in Santa Barbara Ca. that is three times that size

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you are referring to the "Big Fig Tree" in Santa Barbara, it is a Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moreton_Bay_Fig_Tree_%28Santa_Barbara,_California%29

    ReplyDelete