The fig is a shrub or small tree that bears small edible fruits, which are also called figs.
Each fig consists of a fleshy sac in which many tiny seedlike structures are embedded. The fleshy sac is a hollowed-out piece of stem, and the tiny seedlike structures are the fruits.
Figs are usually round or pear-shaped, and they may be red, yellow, purple, or black. They are eaten fresh, dried, or preserved in sugar syrup.
Me Old Nan loves figs. Probably a little too much if you know what I mean. Sometimes she thinks she can sneak out a quiet dry one but it's not only loud but its wet. We call that follow through. And I hate being the only one visiting Me Old Nan when she has these accidents because I feels real guilty about leaving her to sit in her own muck when I run out the door and down to the pub to makes myself scarce.
In parts of Europe, ground roasted figs are sometimes used to flavor coffee. In some countries dried figs are fed to livestock. Figs are rich in sugar. They also contain iron, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and the B vitamins thiamine and riboflavin.
The fig is native to the Mediterranean region, where it has been cultivated since ancient times. Today it is grown in Turkey, Greece, and Italy. In the United States, figs are grown mostly in California.
Although there are many different varieties of fig trees, only the common fig and the Smyrna fig are widely raised commercially. Both of these trees grow to a height of 15 to 30 feet. Both trees bear only female flowers. The flowers of the common fig develop into fruits without being pollinated, but the flowers of the Smyrna fig will not develop into fruits unless they are pollinated. This pollination can be done only by a certain kind of wasp, which is called the fig wasp. The pollen carried to the Smyrna fig by the fig wasp comes from another variety of fig, the caprifig.
Unlike the common and Smyrna fig trees, the caprifig bears both male and female flowers. Fig wasps lay their eggs in the flowers of the caprifig. When the eggs hatch, the young female wasps fly to other flowers to lay their eggs. In order to reach the flowers inside a Smyrna fig, a wasp must squeeze through a small hole in one end of the hollow sac. As the wasp squeezes through the hole, her wings are torn off. Since the wasp cannot fly away, she soon dies, and her body is absorbed by the fig. Kinda like the circle of life.
Because caprifigs are necessary for the development of Smyrna figs, commercial fig growers often hang branches of caprifigs on Smyrna fig trees to bring the wasps close enough for pollinaton. This process of artificial pollination is called caprification.
Figs are usually left on the branches until they are partly dried. In Europe the figs are picked off the trees, but in California the lazy buggers usually allow them to fall.