Fig Tree


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Fig Tree

 

(Ficus carica), a subtropical fruit tree of the genus Ficus, of the family Moraceae. The height of the tree is 4–8 m and the diameter of the trunk is 0.2–0.4 m. The root system is thick and branched. The young shoots are green and are smooth or hairy, with a milky sap. The leaves are deciduous and large, have three to seven lobes, and are simple or entire, with a hairy underside. The fruits are tiny nutlets enclosed in a fleshy collective fruit, an expanded receptacle that is usually pear-shaped or rounded. The fig is usually a dioecious plant. Caprifig inflorescences with male (staminate) and reduced gall flowers are formed on the male trees, whereas those on the female trees are fig inflorescences with normal and underdeveloped long-pistil female blossoms. The blossoms are inside the receptacle: the male ones in the upper part and the female ones (up to 1,500) on the walls of the receptacle. The flowers are pollinated by a small wasp, the blastophaga (2.5 mm long). In many varieties of fig the collective fruits are parthenocarpic (they develop without fertilization). A large proportion of female trees yield two fruit harvests: the first ripens in July, and the second between mid-August and November. The fig tree tolerates high summer temperatures if the soil is supplied with moisture; it is quite frost-resistant (survives temperatures as low as— 12°C) and is not particular about soil, but grows best and is most fruitful on well-drained light loams that are rich in humus, with adequate lime. The trees live 100 to 200 years, begin to bear fruit in their second or third year, and yield abundantly for 50 to 80 years. The yield is 20–100 kg or more per tree.

Fig trees grow wild around the Mediterranean and in Asia Minor, Iran, and northwestern India. In the USSR they are found in the wild or escape state in the Transcaucasia, in the republics of Middle Asia, and in the Crimea. It is cultivated in many countries, especially in Turkey, Algeria, the USA (California), and the USSR in the Azerbaijan SSR, Georgian SSR, Armenian SSR, Dagestan ASSR, Krasnodar Krai, Crimea, and the Middle Asian republics.

Fresh figs are delicate and cannot be kept very long. Depending on the variety and degree of ripeness, they contain: sugars 12–23 percent, pectins 0.5-1.2 percent, cellulose 3.4–7.4 percent, and acids up to 1 percent, and they are rich in vitamins C, B1, B2, carotene, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. They are used fresh and also processed (dried or in preserves, jam, and compote). Dried figs are high in calories; they contain 50–77 percent sugars.

Varieties common in the USSR are Smyrna 2, Calimyrna, Dalmatian, Chapla, Sochi 7, Kadota, and Adriatic. Figs are propagated from seeds, cuttings, layerings, or root shoots. The trees are shaped to bole, bush, or fan form.

REFERENCES

Nesterenko, G. A., and A. D. Strebkova. Inzhir. Moscow, 1949.
Gutiev, G. T. Subtropicheskie plodovye rasteniia. Moscow, 1958.

A. D. STREBKOVA

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