Common Fig (Ficus carica)

Common Fig (Ficus carica)

The Common Fig is a deciduous tree with a long history of human use. It is believed it may have been one of the first species to be deliberately propagated for human use. It produces complex edible inflorescences which are eaten as fruit by mammals, birds and insects.

A) The Common Fig has the capability to live beyond 200 years of age, However on average lives 40-50 years.

B) The Common Fig Will begin to fruit 3-6 years from Germination depending on environmental factors

C) Fiscus Carica is capable of producing 2 crops per year. The first crop, known as the ‘breba’ crop, matures mid spring. The inflorescences (fruit) produced in this early crop are, generally, less sweet, more acidic and less desirable for eating raw. However they are useful for preserves or cooking! The second ‘main’ crop begins in summer with the fruits ripening gradually from late summer the early autumn.

D) Once a Fig tree begins to fruit one can expect an average of 40 fruiting years.

E) This Tree originates from the Middle East and Western Asia, growing particularly well in Turkey.

F) Afghanistan has an average rainfall of 312mm per year, Turkey ranges from 580mm, to 1300mm. The tree can tolerate long droughts, searching for water with its strong taproots in ravines or cracks in the rocks

G) Family: Fiscus Species: Fiscus Carica

H) This tree is Particularly drought tolerant and capable of growth in a wide range of soils particularly those that are nutritionally poor. This makes it perfect as an early tree to grow on a property whilst still working on the soil, providing early shade. It grows well in a Mediterranean climate, perfectly suited for south Australia and its dry summers. Unlike many other species of fig Fiscus Carica does not require a specialised fig wasp to produce fruit. This tree can also be propagate by taking cuttings, a huge advantage if on a budget. The fruits are very nutritious and represent and ideal human-primate food. They also lend themselves to drying and storing for winter. These trees produce huge yields of fruit for humans and also attract a host of birds and insects, increasing biomass. The latex sap from Fig trees is also being studied as an anticancer agent!

I) Height: can reach 7-10 Meters when mature, average 5m

Width of trunk: Average of 17cm in diameter.

Width of Arbour: 3-6 Meters, average 4

Tree Shape: Spreading canopy. The tree can send out new shoots from its roots. Once reaching a height of 2-3 meters the trees foliage is focused on its canopy leaving the trunk bare and easy for humans to walk around.

J) One challenge of growing Ficus Carica is that it is such a cherished fruit by many species that it is common that birds, insects and other mammals may eat a majority of the fruit and it can be challenging to harvest considerable yields for human use! I suggest growing several trees and perhaps netting some specifically for humans. Hopefully after a few years of sensible permacultral thinking, the system will be established and a certain degree of balance will arise between species so there will be enough for everyone. Another challenge is that the milky sap produced by the tree can be quite irritating. I suggest wearing long sleeved clothing and good gloves when harvesting. These trees can grow quite large, which could pose a challenge for urban environments. Keep an eye on the tree height and prune accordingly

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Miles Salani

Based in tasmania. Forager, gardener, busker.

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