The world is filled with a lot of different living and non-living things. Living things are not only human beings but also animals and plants. Every living and non-living thing on earth has many interesting facts that most people are unaware of. Out of numerous plants, the fig is the one which is an Asian species of flowering plant observed in the mulberry family. Since ancient times, it has been cultivated and sought out in the Middle East and Western Asia. It is also grown worldwide for its fruit and as an ornamental plant.
Before learning about other fascinating facts, let’s study more about fig first. The fig is an edible fruit belonging to the species Ficus carica. It could be a small deciduous tree or a large shrub of about 7-10 meters in height. The leaves are large with three to five lobes which are usually deep. The fruit with green skin that ripens to purple or brown is tear-shaped 3-5 centimetres long with sweet, soft, and crunchy seeds of reddish flesh.
Fig fruit can be eaten dried or fresh can be used in processed jams, biscuits, rolls, and other desserts. The use at the commercial level is mostly in a dried or processed state, as the ripe fruit cannot last long due to quick disintegration. Rich in water and carbohydrate, figs have an 80:20 combination of water and carbohydrates with a small amount of protein, micronutrient, and fat content. They give a moderate amount of dietary fibre.
Types of Edible Figs
Persistent or Common Figs: Female flowers do not need pollination for fruiting; the fruiting is done through the Parthenogenesis process. Potato (Kadota), Brown Turkey, Black Mission, Celeste, and Brunswick are some cultivars.
Caducous Figs: Cross-pollination takes place by the fig wasp with pollens from caprifigs. Cultivars are Zidi, Marabout, and Inchario.
Intermediate Figs: They set an unpollinated breba crop, but for the main crop, it needs pollination. Some cultivars are King, San Pedro, and Lamperia.
Fig Production: – As surveyed in 2018, raw figs production reached 1.14 million tonnes, led by Turkey producing 27 per cent of overall world production. Next, around 64 per cent of contributors are Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria.
Nutritional Quality: – Figs roughly contain 79 per cent water, 19 per cent carbohydrates, 1 per cent protein, and little fat. It constitutes 14 per cent dietary fibres per 100 gm serving. When dehydrated to 30 percent, water one can get 64 percent carbohydrates, 3 percent proteins, and 1 percent fat content. Dried figs give 20 percent of dietary fibre, 26 percent essential manganese, and iron, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K in moderate amounts.
Toxicity: – Most plant species in the family Moraceae cause skin irritation. Fig too, causes it on contact with milk sap followed by exposure to ultraviolet light, and the inflammation caused may be quite serious. The process of phytophotodermatitis in humans takes place because of an organic chemical compound called furanocoumarins, namely two of them, psoralen and bergapten. More than 10 percent of psoralen is found in the essential oil of fig leaves which is the highest among organic compounds. Psoralen is the major reason for leaf-induced phytophotodermatitis.
Interesting Facts about Figs
- Out of several figs grown in California, the two most common are dark purple, sweet Mission, and amber-coloured, slightly nutty-flavored Golden.
- The harvesting of figs is always planned according to nature’s clock. It fully ripens and partially dries on the tree.
- In the US, California produces 100 percent of the country’s dried figs and 98 percent of fresh figs.
- Baked goods can remain fresher with the help of figs as it aids to hold the moisture.
- As a wide belief, it is said that it was the fruit of fig and not an apple in the Garden of Eden with Eve and Adam.
- In ancient Rome, figs were used for restoration. A common belief is that fig increases the strength in young people, gives elders better health, and helps them look younger with fewer wrinkles.
- Compared to ounces, figs contain more potassium than bananas and more fibre than prunes.
- As a commercial product, figs made their first appearance in 1892 when introduced as Fig Newtons Cookies.
- The blossom of fig trees is not on branches but in fruits. Figs get a unique texture because many small flowers produce crunchy little edible seeds.
- The dark purple fig is known as ‘Mission’ because, in 1769, the priests of Mission San Diego first planted figs.
- The amount of calcium received from one-half cup of milk can also be received by eating one-half cup of figs.
- Figs were used as training food by athletes in the early Olympics. Figs are also the first Olympic ‘medal’ as it was gifted to appraise the winners.
- The Spaniards introduced Mission figs to the California region in the early 16th century.
- Fig puree is used to replace fat in baked goods.
- The fig tree is seen as the symbol of fertility, abundance, and sweetness.
- Figs produce fruits on branches; however, some figs in the Philippines can develop fruits on the stem.
- Figs are used as a substitute for coffee by some people.
- Livia, Rome’s first Emperor Augustus’s wife, used figs from their garden to smear them with poison to kill Augustus.
- When the figs are cultivated, they can survive for 35 years.
- In ancient Greece, figs were widely cultivated, which you can see in the description of Aristotle and Theophrastus.
- The edible figs are the first plant cultivated by human beings.
- The diameter of the root of a fig tree is three times bigger than the crown, and it is usually located near the surface of the ground.
- Figs have now become naturalized in scattered locations in North America and Asia.
- Occasionally, fig trees can grow as high as 50 feet under exceptional conditions.
- A fig flower is not visible from the outside as it is inverted bloom inside fleshy structure and becomes a fruit. It is called infructescence in scientific nomenclature.
- Due to the high alkalinity, fig can reduce the desire of smoking, and hence it is recommended for people who want to quit smoking.
- As one can find in old books, figs were a common food source for the Romans. De Agri Cultura, a list, consists of several stains of figs grown in 160 BC.
- One can find the mention of the Kadota cultivar of figs by Roman naturalist Pliny in the 1st century AD.
- During BC 9400 to 9200, nine subfossil figs of parthenocarpic type were found in the Neolithic village Gigal I, in the Jorden Valley.
- Figs offer several health benefits as they can be used to treat chest congestion, as a facial mask (it tightens the skin), and to soothe insect bites (extracted juice from leaves).
- Certain figs that occurred in South Africa have a deep root of which the recorded deepest root reached the depth of 400 feet.
- Apart from the human diet, figs are used in the pharmaceutical industries to manufacture several creams and lotions.
- The pollination of figs uniquely takes place as a special wasp enters infructescence via a small passage. It takes place through animals, too, as the seeds get dispersed through their feces.
- Parthenogenesis is how figs reproduce without pollens and give sterile produced fruit.
- A much faster reproduction called vegetative takes place through tissue cultures, cuttings, and grafts. This type of reproduction is much faster than reproduction through seeds.
- One can experience skin irritation if it comes in contact with milk sap produced in the fig’s green parts.
- Figs were cultivated from Afghanistan to Portugal. They were also grown in the Kumaon hills of India called Pithoragarh.
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