Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Figs: Origins and Development

  • Mordechai E. Kislev
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_2176

Basic Species Information

Ficus carica, fig, common fig. The fig tree has a short, branched trunk, which creates a broad crown with rather large and usually emarginated, deciduous leaves. Its life span is short (decades) in comparison to that of an olive tree. The fig protects itself against ruminants by producing bitter latex found in its leaves and young branches. It is dioecious, i.e., the species produces male and female trees.

The flowers are tiny, grouped by the hundreds in a closed inflorescence called a syconium, which develops into a fruit of almost spherical to pear shape, with a somewhat rounded apex and a narrow base. An opening, called ostiole, is located at the center of the fig’s apex (Fig. 1). Pollination is carried out by a tiny wasp ( Blastophaga psenes) that develops inside the male syconium, which is dry, is spongy, and has uncomfortable taste. The wasp, which lives in symbiosis with the fig, exits the male syconium and flies to find a female tree; it then...
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Life SciencesBar-Ilan UniversityRamat-GanIsrael