Fig tree, Smyrna berry, wine berry - a subtropical tree Ficus carica, from the same genus, to which the evergreen indoor ficuses belong, not at all similar to them. It is grown in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Italy, Greece, Portugal - wherever the climate is subtropical or just warm enough. Mankind has mastered F.carica in Asia Minor, in the area of Caria, after which it is named in Latin. The fig tree has been serving humanity for 5 thousand years, and has left bright, significant traces in the history of civilization.
This is the same fig tree, which the Bible tells about in the description of the heavenly life of Adam and Eve ("fig leaf") and in the parable of the barren tree. It is also mentioned in the Qur'an, one of the suras is called “The Fig Tree”. Buddhists believe that Enlightenment, which made Prince Gautama Buddha, descended on him under the Sacred Ficus - a tree of the same kind, albeit with inedible fruits. In Ancient Hellas, these fruits, along with grapes, were among the main foodstuffs; at the holidays in honor of the god Dionysius, they were placed in baskets as a sign of fertility and joy.
To describe the intricacies of flowering and fruit formation of figs - a plant that is absolutely unique - there is a complex system of terms applied exclusively to the genus Ficus. Trees are divided into male and female, that is, it is dioecious. Three times a year, syconium inflorescences grow in the leaf axils on short stems. They are pear-shaped with a hole in the upper part, the flowers are located inside. Hence the misconception that the fig tree does not bloom.
On male trees in syconiums, flowers with stamens are well developed, and the pistils in female flowers are shortened, these inflorescences are called profigi. On female trees, on the contrary, staminate flowers are reduced, and pistillate flowers are full-fledged, these are figs, the infructescence obtained from them is also called.
All inflorescences of the first generation in the season are called profigs, they are formed in April, mainly male trees bloom at this time, that is, most profigi are capryphigs, but among them there are some female ones on the corresponding trees. The second generation - mammoni, blooms in summer, this time there are much more female inflorescences, it gives the main harvest. Then, at the end of September, the male trees form the mamma generation, which naturally does not bear fruit.
In the photo is a fig tree
The complex flowering cycle of F. carica was formed for a reason, it is ideally adjusted to the life cycle of the wasp Blastophaga psenes, with which this plant has the closest symbiosis. Females of a tiny, 1 - 2 mm, insect come out of the inflorescences only to find new ones. Males generally exist only inside capryphigus and do not even have wings. Yes, and females do not fly, they do not need it. In spring, overwintered fertilized blastophages enter male inflorescences of the first, spring generation, lay eggs in the ovary of defective female flowers and die.
Males develop from the eggs laid, they help the females to get out of the ovaries, fertilize them, and die. Females lay eggs, the cycle repeats, by the time the new females are ripe for laying, pistillate inflorescences have already formed on the female plants, waiting for pollination. The wasp that got out of the syconium is covered with pollen, which is in abundance in the male inflorescence.
In search of a place for oviposition, the insect tries to master the inflorescences on female trees, but it fails, because the ovaries of female flowers are not suitable for this. Instead, pollination takes place, which is necessary for the plant in order for the inflorescence to develop into a full-fledged seed.
When the female still manages to find one of the few male inflorescences on the corresponding tree, she lays eggs, and the second generation of wasps emerges from them. They no longer have to look for male flowers for a long time, because by the time of their maturity, the syconiums of the mamma generation, consisting only of male inflorescences, are blooming. Females of the third generation hibernate inside syconiums on a tree or on the ground and begin another symbiotic cycle in spring.
In good conditions, the fig tree grows like a tree and can reach a height of over 10 meters. This happens, for example, in a river valley, on slightly alkaline soil, with low humidity, in warmth, or in the garden, with constant, not very abundant watering and fertilizing. If all this is not enough, then the tree is not tall. It can also grow in the form of a bush - for example, when it grows back after frost, or, if it is formed this way on purpose, when grown in trenches or indoors.
This extremely adaptable plant loves watering, but is drought tolerant; prefers subtropical humidity, but tolerates dry air well. The fig tree is completely undemanding to the soil, although it is responsive to fertilization and loosening, at the same time it grows in the mountains between stones, in crevices of rocks, on a very thin layer of barren soil. Loves sunlight, but grows well in shade, however, this affects the quality of the crop. A well-groomed garden produces 10 - 20 tons of fruits per hectare.
Some varieties freeze at -5 ° C, others withstand -10 ° C, good frost resistance for a subtropical culture. In cold areas, the bushes are covered for the winter, for this they are grown in trenches. This plant could move to more northern regions, only the thermophilicity of the wasp does not allow this, without which most varieties of fig trees cannot be.
Figs in the photo
The situation was partially corrected by breeders, creating forms that bear fruit satisfactorily without pollination, they are good where, due to the cool climate, symbiont wasps cannot live, as well as for keeping in a room, as a fruit and ornamental plant. Lush trees no more than 3 m high, with lobed exotic leaves really look very impressive indoors. Indoor fig is best kept on a well-lit windowsill, watered moderately, cleaned in a cool room for the winter, because this plant is deciduous, it needs winter rest.
So, what we call the fruit of a fig tree is actually its fruit, moreover, as if turned inside out, so that many small fruits are located inside. Delicate, juicy pulp develops from the axis of the inflorescence, outside it is covered with a thin skin with fine pubescence, giving roughness. The taste is very sweet, sometimes with sourness, with a specific aftertaste.
The name "wine berry" was probably given to the fruit because it spoils very quickly, and fermentation begins a day after removal. Therefore, no matter how tasty the fresh fruits are, they have to be quickly processed into jams, preserves, marmalade, marshmallows, compotes or dried. The main producers of figs - Turkey, Italy and Greece - supply them to the market mainly in processed or dried form.
Video about the benefits of figs
The calorie content and sugar content in the "wine berry", especially when dried, are so high that they give a noticeable burst of energy and a feeling of satiety. The soldiers of Alexander the Great always carried them with them. In terms of iron content, this fruit surpasses even an apple, in potassium it is second only to nuts. There is calcium, phosphorus, copper, iodine, a rich set of vitamins (C, B, PP), a lot of useful plant fiber.
The abundance of nutrients in the Smyrna berry has a beneficial effect on the entire body - on the cardiovascular system, kidneys, liver, stomach, it is useful for anemia, reduces blood clotting, has antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties, milk decoctions are an excellent folk remedy for colds. Contraindicated in gout and diabetes mellitus.
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