This is a controversial topic and the answer depends on its species. There are approximately 850 species of the Fiscus genus, that is figs. The pear-shaped sweet fruit commercially sold in fruit markets is indeed an edible fruit and comes from the Ficus carica species or more popularly, Common fig. This is not to be confused with species like the Ficus benjamina that is widely known as an ornamental plant.
The Common Fig, which is the edible fruit is loaded with health benefits. It has laxative properties and can help with health issues like constipation, diabetes, and sore throat. It also helps control blood pressure and strengthens our bones. The Common Fig fruit can possibly help prevent breast cancer in post-menopausal women along with colon cancer.
The Controversial Dead Wasps
Our innate curiosity led us to discover the symbiotic relationship between the fruit and fig wasps. Well, flowers require pollination that bees and wasps execute. In the flowering stages of the fruit, thousands of fragrant-smelling flowers cluster to form an inflorescence. The flowers line up within a fleshy structure known as a syconium.
The flowers are hidden within this complex system that is why figs are referred to as inverted flowers since the flowers are inside. Towards the end of the flowering process, the female wasps move out of the system to pollinate other figs while the wingless and blind male wasps break down into proteins within the plant.
The fig fruit has plenty of seeds inside that are a result of the flowering process. It is by no means dead wasps. Humans have learned to distinguish which fig species are edible and which are not. If you find the Common fig sold at the grocery or fruit market, those are the nutrient-packed fruits that you may enjoy without hesitation.
One more thing that can help to achieve peace of mind regarding fig fruits is the fact that commercially sold fig fruits are produced sans pollination. An artificial process known as parthenocarpy enables fruit production without necessitating wasps to enter the flowers and commence the pollination process. When fruits ripen through parthenocarpy, the result is seedless fruits. This is not strange among horticulturists who propagated seedless figs, tomatoes, cucumbers, grapefruit, and watermelon.
Ficus carica or the Common Fig can also be enjoyed after a drying process. The dried fig fruit can be enjoyed all year round compared to fresh fig fruits which are in season in the first weeks of June as well as from August to October. The fresh fruit is only good for up to two weeks after harvesting.
Sun-dried or dehydrated fig fruits make a fiber-rich snack. Dried figs also contain high levels of protein, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamin K. Dried fruits contain an insignificant amount of lipid fat. It also contains traces of omega-6 fatty acids.
All these nutritional goodness can help improve your skin’s appearance. Dried figs work as antioxidants that help lessen skin blemishes, age spots, and wrinkles.
Other Fig Species
As earlier stated, there are many different species of figs or Fiscus plants. While the Common fig fruit is harvested from trees, other fig trees remain as ornamental plants. Some fig species are popularly used to create bonsai. These include fiddle leaf figs and weeping figs. It is wise to note that the small fruits of some fig tree species, such as in the Chinese banyan are not edible.
One other popular fig specie is known as the Fucus racemosa, also known as the Indian fig tree or the cluster fig tree. These look like langsat or lanzones, but are not the edible fruits good for people. However, cluster fig fruits are favorites among Indian macaque or monkeys as well as food for caterpillars in northern Australia.
The South African ethnic people known as the Ovambo tribe use the fruit (eenghwiyu) of the cluster fig and make their traditional liquor called ombike. In India, they use the bark of the cluster fig to make a paste to treat insect bites and boils. Take note that this is an exemption to most fig leaves, branches, and even the skin of the fruit. Some people are allergic to fig leaves resulting in phytophotdermatitis which is a form of skin irritation.
Some people are also allergic to fig fruits. Do know that figs are a part of the Moraceae or mulberry family. If you are allergic to jack fruit, sugar apple, and other fruits in the mulberry family, you are most likely allergic to figs as well.
Finally, there are also fig plants that grow as a woody vine. One such example is the climbing fig or ficus pumila which can be difficult to remove once it attaches itself on walls. This fig specie is known to withstand drought and are often used to make topiaries.
Fig Flower Arrangement
Unconventional individuals are known to gravitate towards unique floral arrangements. If you desire a unique addition to a hand bouquet for weddings and other special occasions, consider adding fruit, vine, and branches into your masterpiece. Fig is a wonderful addition to any beautiful floral arrangement.
Your local florist in Singapore can help you create a unique flower bouquet with fruit in the arrangement. Large fruits like fig and pomegranate can become the centerpiece of your arrangement. Ensure the fruit are secured in the bouquet since fruits tend to tip over and fall due to their weight and size. Adding vines can also add height and width to your arrangement. The vines can also be used to tie the arrangement together.
Fig Household Plants
If you prefer to use figs as ornamental plants at home, it is wise to group it with other plants that can help keep your figs pest-free. Bright flowers like the rue plant helps to repel insect like Japanese beetles and flies which are drawn to figs when the plant is fruiting.
Marigolds can also help certain species of fig ward of microscopic worms like nematodes. Fig houseplants also pair well with rhododendrons, providing the greenery backdrop for these bright flowers.