The fig is the edible fruit of Ficus Carica, a species of small tree in the flowering plant family Moraceae. It is native to Western Asia and the Mediterranean and has been cultivated since ancient times. Now, it is widely cultivated as a fruit and ornamental plant. Fig coming from the Ficus plant family contains 800 species of tropical and subtropical plants. It is a small deciduous tree or tall shrub that grows 7 to 10 meters high.
The sweet taste and complex texture feature of figs make it so popular that you might have heard about it a thousand times. Also, you might have heard about fig cakes and famous cookies such as fig bars. The perishable and delicate feature of figs helps to make a dry fruit by exposing it to the sunlight or in a dehydrator. The dry fruit form is known as Anjeer, which comes from a variety of wild figs.
What Is Fig?
The fig fruit develops as a fleshy and hollow structure known as syconium. It is lined with numerous unisexual flowers. To your surprise, the tiny flower blooms inside in a cup-shaped structure. Although it is commonly known as a fruit, the syconium is botanically an infructescence which is a type of multiple fruits.
Tiny fig flowers and then tiny single-seeded fruits line its inner surface. An ostiole or small opening that is visible in the center of the fruit is a narrow passage that allows the specialized fig wasp, Blastopphaga psenes, to enter the inflorescence. In this way, it pollinates the flowers and after that, each fertilized ovule becomes a seed.
The edible and ripe syconium stalk develops into a false fleshy fruit-bearing numerous single-seeded fruit. Technically, they are drupelets. The length of the whole fig fruit is 3 to 5 centimeters with a green skin that turns brown or purple after the fruit is ripened.
A milky sap produced by the Ficus Carica produced by laticiferous cells is irritating to the human skin. So, avoid getting intact with the sap.
Nutrition Facts of Figs
Figs are a unique fruit that looks like a teardrop. The size of the fig is about the thumb but filled with hundreds of tiny seeds. The figs and their leaves are packed with nutrients while providing a variety of potential health benefits. Mainly, figs can be used to control blood sugar, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve healthy digestion.
Fresh figs are a vitamin and mineral-rich diet with low calories. The calories in a fresh fig might be low but they are high in dried fig. It is because when the fig dries, the sugar becomes concentrated. 100 grams of fresh and dried figs contain nutrients as follows:
|Nutrients||Fresh Fig||Dried Fig|
|Calories||74 kcal||249 kcal|
|Calcium||35 mg||162 mg|
|Iron||0.37 mg||2.03 mg|
|Magnesium||17 mg||68 mg|
|Phosphorus||14 mg||67 mg|
|Potassium||232 mg||680 mg|
|Folate||6 mcg||9 mcg|
|Choline||4.7 mg||15.8 mg|
|Beta-Carotene||85 mcg||6 mcg|
|Lutein and Zeaxanthin||9 mcg||32 mcg|
|Vitamin A||8 mcg||0 mcg|
|Vitamin C||2 mg||1.2 mg|
|Vitamin K||4.7 mcg||15.6 mcg|
Fun Facts About Figs
- The term Fig comes from the Latin Word Ficus and the ancient name Feg.
- In English, the word Fig was first recorded in the 13th century.
- Figs are now naturalized in the scattered places of North America and Asia.
- The tree of figs is a symbol of sweetness, fertility, and abundance.
- If you eat half a cup of figs, then you get as much calcium as drinking half a cup of milk.
- Besides the human diet, figs are now used in the pharmaceutical industry for the preparation of lotions and creams.
- The plant or tree of the figs usually reaches 10 to 30 feet in height. If there are exceptional weather conditions then it can stand 50 feet tall.
- Usually, the root of the fig tree is near the surface of the soil. To your surprise, the diameter of the root can be 3 times greater than the crown.
- The figs grown in South Africa have incredibly deep roots. The deepest recorded roots of figs reached the depth of 400 ft.
- Figs have large leaves divided into 3 to 5 lobes. They are easily recognizable because Adam and Eve used fig leaves as clothes. It is mentioned in the Bible.
- The history of apples begins as a prohibited fruit and some people believe that instead of apples, figs were the fruits in the Garden of Adam and Eve.
- Did you know that a fig tree is an inverted flower and it blooms inside the fleshy structure? It has a hard shell from the outside. Due to such structure, it is scientifically known as infructescence.
- Based on the type of flower, figs are divided into four categories. Also, these categories are based on the reproduction method of the figs. Only one type of the fig produces pollen, known as caprifig, whereas the other three types are dependent on its pollen.
- Through a small passage, a special type of wasp pollinates the figs by entering the infructescence. Several animals eat figs and they scatter the seeds through their feces.
- Figs are one of the fruits that can reproduce without pollen. It does so by a process called parthenogenesis, which means the fruit produced is sterile.
- Usually, fig fruits are produced on the branches. However, some types of figs in the Philippines can develop the fruit on the stem.
- In addition to the seeds, figs can be grown from grafting, tissue culture, and cuttings. This type of reproduction is faster than reproduction by seeds. It is known as vegetative reproduction.
- Figs have a sweet and pleasant taste that can be eaten fresh or dried. Also, they can be a part of savory and sweet foods.
- Figs are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They can be a part of your diet plan.
- The health benefits provided by figs are considerable. They can be used for the treatment of chest congestion, a healthy diet for growing people because it is rich in iron.
- Figs can be used to reduce redness and inflammation. It contains phenolic antioxidants that are beneficial for your health.
- The calcium content in the figs can help you to strengthen your bones.
- Figs are the key to a healthy heart. Also, it prevents colon cancers, prostate, and fights breast cancer.
- If you want to have a firm skin mask, then use figs.
- The green parts of the fig produce a milky sap that can cause skin irritation.
- To soothe an insect bite, extract a juice from fig leaves and apply it to the sting.
- For some people, figs are the coffee substitute.
- If you want to quit smoking, then try figs. The high alkalinity in the figs can help to decrease the desire to smoke.
- Figs are one of the first plants cultivated by humans as edible food.
- A cultivated fig can survive for 35 years.
- Nine parthenocarpy-like subfossil figs have been found dating to around 9400-9200BC. They were found in the ancient Neolithic city of Gilgal I in the Jordan Valley that is 13 kilometers north of Jericho.
- Figs were widespread in ancient Greece. Their cultivations were described by Theophrastus and Aristotle.
- Aristotle pointed out that, as in the sexes of the animals, figs have individuals of two kinds. One kind is the cultivated fig that bears fruit and the other is a wild fig. It helps the others to bear the fruits.
- The first emperor of Rome, Augustus was said to have been poisoned with poison-coated figs from his garden by his wife Livia.
- For Romans, figs were the common food source. Like Cato the Elder, in his c. 160 BC from De Agri Cultura listed the various strains of cultivated figs in his manual.
- The Kadota fig tree cultivar was mentioned by Pliny, a Roman naturalist in the 1st century AD.
- Figs were grown from India to Afghanistan and Portugal.
- In 1769, figs were brought to California for the first time by Spanish Missionaries led by Junipero Serra. The mission variety is still cultivated and it is still one of the popular varieties across the globe.
- Many varieties are grown in California but the most common ones are amber-colored with a slightly nutty golden flavor. The other variety is a dark purple that is sweet Mission.
- California produces 100% of the country’s dried figs and 98% of its fresh figs.
- In the first Olympics, athletes used figs as a training food. Also, they were presented as laurels to the winners. Therefore, figs became the first Olympic medal.
- Fig trees do not have flowers on their branches. The flower is inside the fruit! Many small flowers produce the small, crunchy edible seeds that give figs their unique texture.
- The first appearance of figs was made in 1892 by introducing Fig Newtons Crackers.
Fig is the edible fruit of Ficus Carica that comes from the Moraceae flowering plant family. It has been cultivated since ancient times. Since then, there have been 800 species around the world. The specialty of figs is that it is a nutritious fruit that you can use in your healthy diet.
As a fresh fruit, it provides vitamins and minerals, whereas, it provides high calories, especially sugar. The health benefits of figs as fresh and dried fruit are used to boost your immune system, reduce heart disease, and control blood sugar. Several fun facts about figs are about their uses in ancient times and their health benefits.