Scientific: Ficus carica
Common: common fig
Family: Moraceae
Origin: The common fig is native to western Asia, and has been cultivated for thousands of years in Mediterranean countries of Europe and North Africa. Figs were introduced to England and Mexico in the 1500's, then the Eastern US in 1669, and to California in 1881 and later Arizona.

Pronounciation: FII-cus CAR-i-ca

Hardiness zones
4-9, 12-24
USDA 6-11

Landscape Use: Edible fruit gardens, accent

Form & Character: Edible fig trees are happy with a vibrant and vigorous character, spreading, a real 'grow me in a garden' tree.

Growth Habit: Woody deciduous perennial tree, moderate, dense to 15 to 30 feet in height with generally a greater spread.

Foliage/texture: Alternate, simple, deciduous; 5 inches in diameter, but sometimes larger; palmately lobed with (usually) 5 finger-like lobes, lustrous, glabrous. Bark is smooth and silvery gray, somewhat warty; coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: The small flowers are produced twice in the season. The first ones (the breba crop) are produced near the ends of the shoots of the preceding flush of growth, whereas the second crop (the main crop) is produced in the axils of the leaves on the new growth. Borne in inverted inflorescences in axils of leaves on 1-yr wood (breba crop) and current season's wood as well (main crop). In cultivated "Common" figs, all flowers are female, packed along the inside of the inflorescence, consisting basically of an ovary and a single style. Fruit (not technically a fruit, but a swollen stem) is a "synconium" (multiple of druplets with swollen receptacle).

Seasonal color: None

Temperature: The common fig is very hardy of desert heat and cold.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Regular


Propagation: Roots very easily from hardwood cuttings.

Disease and pests: Root knot nematodes.

Additional comments: The common fig is a GREAT garden tree for the lower desert of Arizona. In the Bible in the book of John, Jesus smited the fig tree for having no fruit by placing a curse on it. This was unusual since figs can easily produce 2 crops/year, and it is less likely to come upon a fig without ripe fruit than most other species that produce only 1 crop/year. Perhaps knowing this, Jesus was all the more wanting to point out the problem with this 'barren' fig tree as an analog for his followers to learn the importance of not wasting God-given gifts and talents. In Genesis, a fig leaf was used to cover private areas after Eve ate the forbidden fruit, causing Adam and Eve to become aware of their nudity. Figs also are depicted in many paintings of biblical scenes. Figs have been an important fruit of commerce in the eastern Mediterranean region since antiquity, and today are grown in many parts of the world. Figs have a high sugar content and are a fair source of vitamins A and B.

The milky sap or latex often exudes from cuts in stems or when fruit are harvested; this can cause dermatitis, and gloves should be worn by persons with sensitive skin. The best cultivated varieties of fig for Phoenix are:
Brown Turkey (also known as Black Spanish, San Pedro) - Good garden tree, large brownish purple fruit, better fresh.
Conadria - Medium greenish yellow skin with a purplish tinge, strawberry colored flesh, good fresh, excellent dried.
Kadota - Medium greenish yellow skin, amber flesh, excellent fresh, excellent dried.
Mission (also known as Black mission) - Large purple black fig, excellent fresh, excellent dried.