The fig tree is a species of small tree in the flowering plant family Moraceae. It is native to the Mediterranean and western Asia.
Figs are small deciduous trees or large shrubs that grow up to 7 – 10 m tall (23 – 33 ft). The fruit is tear-shaped and 3 – 5 cm long. With a green skin that ripens to purple or brown and sweet soft reddish flesh containing crunchy seeds.
California became an ideal fig-producing state after the gold rush.
Fig Facts for Kids
- Figs are a sweet, sticky fruit
- Prior to picking, figs ripen and slightly dry on the tree.
- Fig trees do not blossom
- Figs are flowers inside out, filled with hundreds of little flowers.
- A fig tree is harvested when the fruit is ripe and partially dried.
- Fresh baked goods are naturally moistened by figs.
- Fat can be replaced in baked goods by fig puree.
- In the 1600s, Spanish explorers introduced figs to California.
- California grows hundreds of varieties of figs
- California produces most of the figs we eat in the U.S.
- Mission San Diego priests planted figs in California in 1769. The dark purple fig became known as “Mission.”
- A few are available in grocery stores, including the very sweet Black Mission fig and the pink Adriatic fig.
- Figs were used by early Olympic athletes for training.
- You can eat the skins with the fruit, and they’re delicious roasted or with goat cheese.
- Fig trees are symbols of abundance, fertility, and sweetness.
- The calcium in figs is the same as in a half cup of milk.
- Dried figs are dates.
- Fresh or dried figs can be eaten or made into jam.
History of the Fig
The edible fig was one of the first plants that were cultivated by humans. The fig was widespread in ancient Greece, and farmers helped the wild fig to bear fruit by scattering dust from the male onto the female and by tying the wild fig to the cultivated tree.
Figs were a common food source for the Romans and were used to fatten geese for the production of a precursor of foie gras. The Liviana variety was cultivated in Roman gardens and was later introduced to Northern Europe and the New World.