Ficus carica (Fig)

Trees in the Ficus genus, Moraceae Family, are sacred species, culturally significant, and are the trees most featured in folklore. As Amitav Ghosh says, plants are usually only viewed from one side which is science and commerce, yet they have a whole other half that is known in story and song. Figs are often considered home to gods and spirits and places of prayer. Adam and Eve used fig leaves as clothes. Buddha attained enlightenment in India under the Bo tree or Ficus religiosa. In ancient Egypt, fig trees stood at the boundary of heaven, and a goddess emerges to welcome dead souls as they enter. In Arab countries, the common fig (Ficus carica) has been cultivated for thousands of years, and dried figs sustained travelers on long journeys. Gifting a fig tree sapling is common in Arab cultures. Their native range is unclear due to thousands of years of cultivation but likely is northern Africa, southern Europe, western Asia, and Pakistan. Figs from Ficus carica trees are structures with internal flowers that are pollinated by fig wasps. These trees can reproduce through suckers and seeds, and can grow as epiphytes. They are adaptable and can grow in a wide variety of soil and conditions.

Fig trees provide sustenance for more birds and animals than any other tree. The wood is valued and medicinal qualities pronounced. Figs improve digestion, lower blood pressure, and control blood sugar and cholesterol. In the Bible, boils were treated with figs, which are now understood to be caused by Anthrax bacteria. They are generally a good anti-microbial, and are rich in fiber with anti-cancer properties.

Elizabeth Oriel 2022