Ficus carica L. - Common fig.
Taxonomic position.Family Moraceae Link genus Ficus L.
Synonyms.Ficus colchica Grossh., F. hyrcana Grossh., F. kopetdagensis Pachom.
Smyrna fig, ficus, fig tree.
Morphology and biology.Latex-producing dioecious plant. Deciduous tree up to 12 m high, or sometimes decumbent shrub. Leaves are leathery, large, 12 (15) cm long, with ovate contour, trilobate or deeply quinquelobate almost to the base, scabrous or downy from above and downy from below. Compound fruits are about 3 cm in diameter, pear-shaped or flattened globular, violet or less frequently yellow, costate, with delicate yellow pulp.
Entomophilous. Performed by a special fig-wasp, pollination is characterized by remarkable mutual adaptation of the plant and the insect. Ornito- and zoochore. Propagated by layers, root suckers and cuttings. Blossoms in April/May; bears fruit in July/October. 2n=26.
Distribution.Caucasus (Krasnodar Region - river valleys of Psezuapse and Psou, sporadically in Daghestan, Eastern and Southern Transcaucasia), mountains of Central Asia (Kopet Dagh, Balkhan Major, western Pamir-Alai, mountainous Bukhara, Hissar and Darvaz ridges), Asia Minor, Iran, Afghanistan, and India. Frequently turns wild, that's why it is difficult to differentiate its natural and cultivated areas of distribution.
Ecology.Mesophyte, facultative calciphyte. Photophilous. On well-moistened loose soils develops a powerful ramified root system. Grows singly or in groups, but would never form dense thickets. Widespread mostly in the low mountain zone where prefers the warmest sunny slopes of southern and eastern expositions or sunlit areas in the valleys; individual plants would rise along crevices and clefts up to the middle mountain zone, thus reaching 1300 m above sea level in Nagorny Karabakh and Hissar Mountains, and 1600 m on the southern slope of Darvaz Ridge.
Utilization and economic value.Edible, ornamental and medicinal plant. Compound fruit are used for food as a dainty and dietetic stuff. They are consumed fresh or dried, and used to make jams, sweet pastes, candy and wine, or vinegar where low-grade varieties are concerned. Dried fruit contain up to 75% of sugar (fructose and glucose) and many vitamins (A, C and others). The enzyme from latex is applied for fermenting milk in cheese production and as a raw material for some medicaments. It is an ancient crop, known in Mesopotamia for more than 4000 years.
References:Brezhnev, D.D. , Korovina, O.N. 1981. Wild relatives of cultivated plants in the flora of the USSR. Leningrad: Kolos, pp. 115. (in Russian).
Grossgeim, A.A. 1945. Flora of the Caucasus, vol.3. Bakhu: Publishing House AzFAS, pp.69. (in Russian).
Sokolov, S.I., Svjaseva, O.A., Kubli, V.A. 1977. Areas of distribution of trees and shrubs in the USSR. vol.1. Leningrad: Nauka, pp.135-136. (in Russian).
Vulf, E.V., Maleyeva, O.F. 1969. Worldwide resources of useful plants. Reference book. Leningrad: Nauka, 563 p. (in Russian).