Edible Fig

Ficus carica L.

Family: Moraceae

Order: Urticales

Names:

Ficus is the Latin name for the fig tree and its fruit.

Other Names:

Fig

Summary:

A deciduous, spreading tree to 10 m tall with multiple trunks covered in smooth, light grey, flaky bark. The leaves are bright green with 3-5 finger like lobes. The two crops of edible fruit vary in colour in commercial varieties but is usually green yellow in wild or weedy types and are produced from November to January. The fruit is about 3 cm diameter, covered with a somewhat warty skin with a red interior and many seeds.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two.

First leaves:

Leaves:

Alternate. Usually has large hand shaped leaves
Stipules - Fall off so all that is seen is the circular scar,
Petiole - Yes.
Blade - 100-200 mm wide by 100-200 mm long. Finger like lobes that are often toothed near the tips of the main lobes. Indented at the base. Pinnately nerved. Sparse stiff hairs especially along the veins. Lower surface much paler than the upper surface.

Stems:

Milky sap.
Sapwood is diffuse porous.

Flower head:

Many flowers attached to the inside of the hollow, fleshy, pear shaped receptacle

Flowers:

Tiny, many, unisexual
Ovary - Superior. 1 carpel.
Style - single, lateral
Sepals - 1
Petals - None.
Stamens - 1
Anthers -

Fruit:

Actual fruit is a tiny drupe. What is commonly referred to as the fruit or fig is the hollow, fleshy, green or brown-purple, fleshy receptacle that houses the many tiny fruits. There is a small hole covered by overlapping bracts at the tip of the "fruit". False fruit is usually 50-80 mm long.

Seeds:

Tiny.

Roots:

Adventitious (arising from the stem) roots

Key Characters:

Woody shrub to tree.
Leaves lobed.
Flowers unisexual
Petals absent
Stamens 1
Ovary superior.
Fruits embedded in a large succulent receptacle or fig, 50-80 mm long.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Perennial. It takes 4 or more years before fruit and seeds are produced.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed and vegetatively.

Flowering times:

Produces fruit from November to January in the Perth region.
Produces fruit from early summer to autumn in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Flowers pollinated by gall wasps which lay eggs in the sterile female or gall flowers.
Seed probably short lived.

Vegetative Propagules:

Adventitious roots formed from nodes on stem fragments. Roots sucker when damaged. Stems re shoot (coppice) when damaged.

Hybrids:

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread vegetatively and by seed.
Seed is spread by birds and mammals.

Origin and History:

Mediterranean, Western Asia and North Africa.

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Temperate.

Soil:

Prefers moist areas.

Plant Associations:

Significance:

Beneficial:

Commercial fruit tree.
Ornamental

Detrimental:

Weed of streams, waterways and other damp areas.
Can form dense thickets by vegetative spread crowding out native trees and understorey.
Invasive weed of the USA.

Toxicity:

Not recorded as toxic.

Symptoms:

Treatment:

Legislation:

None.

Management and Control:

Remove young plants as they appear.
Avoid dumping pruning waste in wet areas.

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

It is very difficult to control without herbicides.
Cut all trunks 200-500 mm above ground level then apply triclopyr to the stumps immediately and then annually if regrowth appears. Smaller trees with trunks up to 100 mm diameter can be controlled by applying a 250 mm band of triclopyr to the bark near the base of the tree. Alternatively a mixture of 1 L of Access® in 50 L diesel applied to the lower 250 mm of trunks can be used.
Young plants can be manually removed reasonably easily. Larger saplings will require a weed wrench.
Trees re sprout vigorously after cutting them down and these sprouts need to be removed every 4-6 weeks to eventually exhaust the root reserves.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Climbing Fig (Ficus pumila)
Ficus altissima - Invasive weed of the USA.
Ficus benjamina has narrow dark green leaves with small, globular fruit.
Ficus benghalensis - Invasive weed of the USA.
Ficus microcarpa - Invasive weed of the USA.

Plants of similar appearance:

References:

Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P260.

Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P182. Photo.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Marchant et al (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P70.

Randall, J.M. and Marinelli, J. (1996) Invasive Plants. (Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Inc. Brooklyn). P35. Photo.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.