Take a closer look into the much-talked-about fig trees and distinguish about the different types of fig trees, get tips on how to plant and care for them, and enjoy fun facts about them.
Known as a tree species that can produce two fruit crops a year, is drought-tolerant, and has the ability to propagate, a fig tree is one that possesses valuable qualities. Belonging to the genus Ficus, this tree was first cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean region and in western Asia almost 5,000 years ago. This tree grows up 15 to 30 feet tall and requires regular pruning. However, the height of this tree can be restricted if it is planted in a container.
Fig trees have been mentioned in the Bible a couple of times. Even when Adam and Eve were naked in heaven, they used the leaves of a fig tree to cover themselves. Buddha obtained his knowledge while he was sitting under the fig tree. Lastly, the women of Kikuya (in Africa) apply fig tree sap onto their bodies because of their strong belief in the tree’s fruitfulness.
After gaining a little insight into this miraculous tree species, it is important to learn about the types of fig trees.
Types of Fig Trees
Adriatic Fig Tree
The Adriatic fig tree is native to the Mediterranean region. The figs on it are light green skinned and have pink flesh when they are fresh. Because their sugar content is really high, the figs grown on this tree are usually dried so they can be used in fig bars or fig pastes. The Adriatic fig tree is considered to be self-pollinating and the fruits have thin skin with scrumptiously sweet pulp. This fig tree can survive through different weather conditions, but the fruit ripens during June (the past year’s growth) and August (the current year’s growth).
Alma Fig Tree
Alma fig trees ripen later in the season and the fruits are rich in flavor, but they do not have an appealing look at first sight. The alma fig tree is sensitive to snow and frost, which is why they should not be grown more than 200 miles from Mexico. This variety is relatively new (it has been around since 1974) and considered one of the tastiest fig types. The Alma fig can be eaten fresh or be canned. Because they have dark patches on their skin, it makes people think about bacterial infections on. The fruit is medium sized, yellow in color and has small seeds.
Black Mission Fig Tree
The black mission fig tree can grows 10 to 30 feet (which is considered quite large) and it can live for a long time if it is being taken care of properly. The black mission fig tree originates from California and produces high-quality figs. The tree is named after mission father that introduced this dark purple skin that turns black as it dried. The pulp of the fruit is pink. Similar to the other fig trees, this tree produces fruits two times a year as well. If the figs over-ripen, the skin of the medium-sized fruit cracks open.
Brown Turkey Fig Tree
The brown fig tree is well-known for its 25 feet height and extensive spread. They are generally appreciated for the fruit and foliage they produce, instead of the blooms. The figs on this tree possess a dark purple skin accompanied by red flesh. Brown turkey figs are sold fresh and dry. The fruits grow during late spring and late summer.
This fig tree does not produce any fruits that can be eaten. The only thing it can produce is male flowers that are used to pollinate the female fig tree. This wild fig tree grows in southern Europe and southwestern Asia. A caprifig has a thick skin, a pear-shaped body and many small flowers that turn into small fruits that are all inedible. The male caprifig is not juicy and seems to be semi-hollow. This tree ripens inedible fruits three times a year.
Celeste Fig Trees
This is the fig tree that is the hardest to find and it can handle temperatures as low as 15 degrees F and sometimes even lower. The tree grows up to 15 feet tall and has to be planted in a soil that drains well. The reason for this is that it does not grow in soggy soil. This tree is popular in the southeastern United States. It is famous there because it has a high tolerance to the heat and cold. Celeste figs are often referred to as “sweet figs,” because of their high sugar content. The skin of this fruit is violet or light brown and the flesh is a bright red-strawberry color.
Common Fig Trees
As the name suggests, this is the most common fig tree that is available in the world. Moreover, it is a popular one in the United States as well. With no real seeds and no need for pollination, the common fig tree contains brown turkey figs and Celeste figs. This tree type is usually found in houses and it does not depend on other trees for pollination. The figs on the common fig tree are not vulnerable to insects or rotting because they do not have any opening that could let in rainwater that could affect the fruit. This is probably the only fruit that can stay fine for extended periods.
Kadota Fig Tree
The Kadota fig tree has the ability to grow 30 feet high and 30 feet wide. Individuals that love to preserve this tree typically love Kadota fig trees. With a beautiful yellowish-green skin and purple pulp, this fig tree is great for fig preserves. The entire fig is seedless and when it is dried, it becomes light golden. This tree can withstand the cold weather and flourishes the most in zones five and six. The tree is attractive to look at and it can be adaptable if it is sheltered.
Purple Genca Fig Trees
The purple genca fig tree has a medium growth and the ability to grow 13 feet high but plentiful of fruits and foliage. The figs on this tree are referred to as black genoa figs or black Spanish figs. They are dark purple in color, large in size, and have sweet, red flesh. These figs are self-fertilizing and can be eaten fresh or dried. A great thing about these figs is that you can make jam with them as well. This purple genca fig tree is grown both commercially and by home growers.
San Pedro Fig Trees
San Pedro fig trees have two different crops every season. The first crop is grown on mature wood that is leafless and does not need to be pollinated. This crop is called the Breba crop. The second crop is grown on the new wood and needs male flowers for successful pollination. The second crop comes during the later season and if there is not proper pollination, the fruit just falls off the tree because it is even fully developed.
Smyrna Fig Tree
After being pollinated by caprifigs, the Smyrna fig tree bears female flowers only. Depending on their geographical location, this fig tree is sometimes considered the Calimyrna fig tree. Both these trees contain figs that are soft in texture, have a delicious taste and are high in fiber.
When the Smyrna figs are fresh, they have a greenish-yellow color, and when they are dried, they have a light golden color and begin to taste like nuts. This is one reason why dried figs are so popular among people. Figs are a great, healthy, and quick snack. However, if they are not being pollinated properly, the fruit will drop from the tree before it even develops fully.
Fun Facts about Fig Trees
- Figs are grown on the Ficus tree which is a part of the Mulberry family.
- Ficus carica is a part of the Asian species of flowering plants that belong to the Mulberry family.
- Wild fig trees were first grown in West Asia, South Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean Sea almost a hundred million years ago. This is when the dinosaurs were around.
- There are many primates that feed on figs, along with the people of the olden times that fed on wild figs.
- The original fig tree was cultivated in the ancient times and it grew in the wild in areas that were sunny, dry and rocky. These areas had fresh soil.
- Almost 11,000 years ago, habitants in West Asia began farming fig trees. Farmed figs are considered to be the first kind of food that has ever been farmed, even before there were barley and wheat.
- If the climate is good, the tree can bear 2 crops in one year. The first one comes during the early spring/summer time (from last year’s buds) and the other is the chief harvest which takes place during the fall season (from spring’s buds).
- Fig trees are self-fruitful which means you only need to plant one tree in order to obtain its fruits. Mature fig trees have the ability to grow 15 to 30 feet tall.
- Figs have fragrant leaves that are 4.7 to 9.8 inches long and 3.9 t0 7.1 inches wide.
- Figs have fewer calories which provide the body with soluble dietary vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Dried and fresh figs are rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, folates, and niacin. These vitamins are the cofactors of metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
- Dried figs are the best source of minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, selenium, manganese, potassium, and calcium. All these minerals are an aid in red blood cell production and cellular oxidation.
- 100 grams of dried figs have 162 milligrams of calcium in it. This is 16% of the amount you need to consume daily. More importantly, half a cup of figs is equal to half a cup of milk in terms of calcium.
- Turkey is known as the country that has the highest population of figs followed by Iran, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, and Greece.
- Figs are the fruits that need to be consumed on a daily basis because they are beneficial to health. Figs help with constipation, control diabetes, lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, promotes bone health, preserves vision, aids in weight loss and make the liver healthy.
Planting a Fig Tree
- Feel free to plant a fig tree outdoors in zone 8 or lower. If you live in a zone where the winter temperatures get too cold for extended periods, the best option would be to grow a fig in a container and stored inside.
- Plant a fig tree outdoors during the early spring or late fall time that is when the tree is inactive.
- If you are growing your fig tree in a container, grow it in a soil-based potting mix and place in fine bark chips so you can improve the drainage. During the summer, the tree must be kept in the sun. Add in high nitrogen fertilizer every month during the spring and summer times. Moderately add water to the tree. In the winter, keep the tree inside and check to see if the soil is moist.
- Outdoor fig trees should be planted in the spring or in early fall when the sun is out. These trees can grow properly in all types of soils as long as it has organic material and is well drained.
- Plant a fig tree at least 20 feet away from trees and buildings.
- Fig trees have deep roots so keep that in mind when choosing where to plant it.
Planting a Container Fig Tree in the Ground
- Take the plant out of its container and remove any roots that may be circling. With the help of shears, cut the roots as needed.
- Dig a hole in the desired place. The hole should be a few inches wider and deeper than the roots and their spread. Place the tree on a small pile of soil right in the center of the hole. The roots need to be away from the trunk without having to bend them too much.
- The tree should be planted 2 to 4 inches deeper than it was planted originally in its container.
Taking Care of Fig Trees
- Watering young fig trees on a regular basis can help them be established. If you are living in dryer climates, your fig tree should be watered every week.
- Until and unless they are grown in containers, a fig tree does not need fertilization regularly. But, if your tree is not growing properly (in one growing season it should grow 12 inches), you can add ½ to 1 pound of nitrogen supplement. Divide it into 3 to 4 parts and start applying it to the tree during the end of summer or winter night.
- Fig trees need pruning. Therefore, during the dormant seasons, take away the dead, weak and diseased branches so the tree can grow properly.
- If you live in a cold region, your container fig tree needs to be moved indoors and the soil needs to be moist.
- If your area is usually cold and the tree is planted outside, it will die quickly if the ground is too cold. If the tree has hardwood, the area below the ground will not be affected. Just make sure you are taking away all the dead wood when the tree is dormant so there can be grown during the springtime.
The fig tree has a rich history and the fruits on it have endless benefits, which is why it is important for everyone to be enlightened about the different types of fig trees. All the different fig trees are classified as Ficus carica regardless of where they may be cultivated around the world. A fig tree is a gift for the world, which is why it should be protected at all costs