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FICUS carica

Image of Ficus carica

Felder Rushing

Family

Moraceae

Botanical Name

FICUS carica

Plant Common Name

Fig

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

The edible fig is a small deciduous tree to large shrub native to the Middle East and Mediterranean and long cultivated for its teardrop-shaped, sweet, edible fruit. This truly ancient fruit was one of the earliest in cultivation, along with olives, pomegranates and dates. Wild figs grow in along streams and lakesides in these regions but tend to have smaller, fruits. Figs are popular crops in California and Texas but have escaped cultivation and are considered invasive.

Ficus carica is dioecious, meaning shrubs have either male or female flowers. But some plants set fruit parthenocarpically, which means “without a pollinator”. That said, there are four primary fruiting and flowering forms in cultivation. The three key fruiting forms are Common, Smyrna and San Pedro figs, and caprifigs are the chief pollinating types. The self-fruitful common figs set fruit parthenocarpically, so they are the most popular in cultivation.

The large, rich green, deeply lobed leaves and smooth gray bark are highly ornamental. Common fig often bears two crops per year with the second usually producing more and tastier fruit. There are many cultivars, differing in their characteristics and adaptability.

Common figs prefer full sun to partial shade in the hottest climates and well-drained, acid to alkaline soil. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers which favor leafy growth over fruit production and mulch well to protect the roots from cold and suppress nematodes. Most figs prefer dry summers and mild winters. Hard freezes can kill them to the ground, but if the roots are protected, they will re-grow much like woody perennials.

Common fig works well as a specimen, culinary plant or in large containers. Plant it where its falling fruits won't be a nuisance. This easy-to-grow shrub offers a tropical look to temperate regions and makes a perfect edible addition to large garden spaces.

Some refer to figs as the "lazy man's fruit' because they tend to produce well as long as their basic cultural requirements are met, though very old plants can become unproductive. Pruning is most often done to remove dead wood and keep plants more compact. Figs can withstand hard-pruning, but most opt to simply remove the oldest, largest stems in spring every other year or so. Those planted in their coldest hardiness zones often die to the ground with new branches arising from the living roots in the spring. Remove dead wood before new shoots emerge.

Characteristics

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Fruit

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    10'-30' / 3.0m - 9.1m

  • Width

    10'-30' / 3.0m - 9.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Mediterranean, Western Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Green

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Purple, Dark Green, Bronze, Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Houseplant, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No