New fig trees species, an unusual find in Spain.
The amazing Fig Tree or Ficus carica is an Asian species of the mulberry family. It is native to the Middle East and western Asia but present since many centuries in the south of Europe.
It can grow from sea level up to 1.700 meters and prefers relatively light free-draining soils.
Most fig species require to be pollinated by the fig wasp or another tree but for the Ficus carica, this does not always apply. The fig tree was one of the first trees to be cultivated by men
Some subfossil figs were found in the Neolithic village Gilgal in the Jordan Valley, they could be dated at 9400-9200BC.
In Greece, fig trees were very common. Aristotle and also Theophrastus both wrote about this fruit. For the Romans, it was a common food source. Cato the Elder wrote about the different fig types in his De Agri Cultura from 160 BC. One special detail is that figs were used to fatten up geese. The first self-pollinating figs were brought to California in 1769 by Junipero Serra, one of a group of Spanish missionaries.
Data of 2014 on the total world production of raw figs was some 1.14 million tonnes, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco being the four largest producers.
Figs can be eaten in different ways. They do not keep well when harvested. When figs smell slightly sour they are overripe and if still a bit hard will ripen in about 2 days. Eat them as they are, with ice cream, as fig jam, on cakes, and in cookies, they are delicious made into a smoothie.
In the Bible, the fig is mentioned numerous times. Adam and Eve, after eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil glad themselves with fig leaves.
Budha sitting under a very old and big fig tree achieved enlightenment. Muhammad said that eating this fruit it would prevent hemorrhoids, piles, and help with gout. There are many examples in history where the fig tree is mentioned.
I live in the south of Spain, to be more precise in the province of Malaga. In 1981 I was so lucky to find an old ruin, at that time 150-years-old, and over the years reconditioned during various building adventures this beautiful place. As it has quite a bit of land I can grow a lot of things myself and of course planted a fig tree. A fig tree can adapt itself to a big variety of soils and climates but here in my place, it grew well so it must have been happy. It grew so big that in winter when it has no leaves the top had to be cut. It was getting so big one could not reach the fruit anymore and it also started to obstruct the pretty sunsets on the west side of my patio.
In June you will get the first harvest. These are figs that have been “sleeping” since the previous year, going through winter, to then mature months later. Then, at the end of the summer, the new harvest is ready. These are figs which have grown during the same year on the new sprouts of the tree. This harvest lasts about 3 months if the birds permit. The fallen figs we rake together and give them to the ducks and chickens.
If you eat your figs fresh from the tree they do not have a lot of calories, 65 for 100 grams.
In case you eat dried figs than the calories double because of the higher sugar content.
A fig has carbon hydrate, fiber, potassium, proteins, minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, and vitamins. Fig marmalade, homemade, is very nice, cold from the fridge with ice cream. You can put them in a fruit smoothie and together with different cheeses. Figs are healthy and great to taste.
In the Guadalhorce area close to Malaga many different types of figs can be found. Of many from these not well-known varieties only a few trees remain. They were taken care of by some old farmers. This has come to light as Monica Laguia who is an ecological farmer was writing for her Masters at the International University of Andalucia. In collaboration with GDR and the Experimental Center “ La Mayora “, it was discovered that the ADN of 11 of the 18 varieties did not coincide with any of the registered trees in the Germoplasma Bank of Extremadura, national reference catalog. The idea is to create a network to interchange seeds and like that be able to recuperate these nearly lost species of fig trees.
Photo Source: Pixabay and Private.