Tree Friend – Ficus Carica

Tree Friend – Ficus Carica


Ficus Carica – White Genoa Fig                         Family: Moraceae

Average expected life of tree, in years, from sprout to death – Up to 200years

Years until trees first fruit – Generally 3-5 years for edible fruit

Season of year when productive tree fruits

Many fig trees varieties crop twice each. The first (or breba) crop form on last years wood. You can often see the tiny fruits dormant on the tree over winter. A heavier crop is then produced later in summer when the new growth develops. Fruit normally forms in the leaf axils on new wood, so pruning a fig is a straightforward and infrequent task. Giving it a light trim in winter stimulates new growth for fruiting, but some old wood should be left on the tree for the breba fruiting. Dead and diseased wood should be removed and more mature trees may need heavier pruning to encourage new growth.

Harvesting is the best part of growing a fabulous fig. Fruit should be picked when they are slightly soft to the touch and smelling sweet. Figs will not continue to ripen once they have been removed from the tree, so pick them when you need them and handle them with care as they can bruise easily.

Expected or average number years tree expected to fruit for once it begins.

Fig trees remain productive up to 12 or 15 years of age (therefor approx 9-12 years of prime fruit) and then the crop declines but the tree can live to a very advanced age.

Country/area of origin 

Native to Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean region (from Afghanistan to Portugal)

Average annual rainfall in area of origin

In most Mediterranean countries figs are grown as rain-fed but the most critical period of irrigation is early spring before a rapid shoot and fruit development. 750 mm of annual rainfall is considered sufficient to produce a good crop. Rain or heavy irrigation during fruit development and ripening can cause the fruits to split.

Make sure young plants are well watered, especially during hot, dry periods. A general rule is 2.5 to 4 centimetres of water per week either from rainfall or irrigation. If fig tree leaves turn yellow and drop, it’s likely they are overwatered.

Ideal planting area

As a sub tropical tree, the fig prefers a Mediterranean climate with warm to hot summers and cooler winters so it is very suited to most areas of Australia. The hardy fig is quite adaptable though and will cope with cold winters, though if you live in areas prone to heavy frosts you may need to protect young trees. Figs are reasonably drought tolerant, though lack of water can affect fruit production. Fig trees will also grow and fruit well in large pots too.

The secret to a good fig is a rich, free-draining soil with a neutral pH. A good layer of straw mulch and plenty of organic matter (like home-made compost) will also give your tree a boost. Figs don’t like wet feet and are often planted in raised beds or mounds to ensure good drainage. Choose a sunny spot with not too much wind, in a position where you can enjoy the summer shade provided by this top tree. A full grown fig can be 3 meters high and up to 5 meters wide in the canopy so take this into account when selecting a spot.

Any other products, benefits, useful or interesting facts about of tree

Figs are a versatile fruit, eaten fresh, glazed, dried, poached and cooked, and they are a very healthy option as well. Figs are high in fibre and vitamin A and C.

They can be used as a laxative.

They can also be brewed as an alcoholic beverage.

The sap of fig trees is reportedly useful in getting rid of warts. (Some people are allergic to the sap though, use caution when handling it for the first time.)

Figs are said to be an aphrodisiac

Fig trees provide great shade

Fig leaves can be used as fodder

Height, width and shape of tree at maturity

A large, deciduous, well-shaped tree, the fig is an excellent shade specimen for small to medium sized backyards. They can be trimmed and trained into a manageable size, grown as a hedge or even espaliered.

A full grown fig can be 10 meters high and has a widespread canopy.

Challenges or special requirements

Many figs require a wasp to pollinate the flowers through the small white eye on the end of the fruit. Most commercially available varieties of figs are self fertile though.

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