One of the pleasures of living in the south is the plethora of plants we can grow in our yards. Growing up in Maine, I probably appreciate the diversity here more than most. When one is limited to plants that are hardy in zones 4 and 5 selection can be meager.
One of my favorite dual purpose landscape plants is the edible fig. It has interesting foliage and delicious fruits that are beginning to ripen. Figs are great raw or in numerous concoctions and they are easy to grow. I made some fig bars last year that were decadent although also wall-to-wall calories.
Figs can be planted away from other landscaping and treated as an orchard crop, but they make a great specimen plant. You can prune them and maintain an attractive shape with dense foliage without hindering fruit production. Many varieties such as ‘Brown Turkey’, ‘Celeste’, ‘Black Mission’ and the large yellow ‘Conadria’ grow and produce well in eastern North Carolina.
‘Celeste’ is probably the most common type found in eastern North Carolina
. Commonly called the sugar fig, it is long lived and hardy. They usually stay at a manageable size with very little pruning. Most trees seldom grow much taller than ten feet and can be trained to less than that. They can be harvested almost entirely from the ground.
In general, figs have excellent disease and pest resistance, although green fruit beetles can rob you. Drought and heat tolerance are superb, making them very adaptable to our growing conditions. They don’t thrive in wet soils or shady conditions although they may grow there. Deer also generally leave them alone. Likely this might be because stems are full of a bitter latex material.
Fig growers encounter this white juice when pruning branches or harvesting fruit. Many are sensitive to it and have a reaction much like people have with poison ivy. It can be severe, particularly if the material comes in contact with the eyes. Other complications can arise when sun exposure follows contact with the plant sap. A good practice is to wash your hands thoroughly after handling fig clippings or fruit. Those allergic to latex might also want to avoid exposure to these.
Some people have a skin reaction when they eat too many fresh figs. Usually cooking the fruits eliminates this problem. Other allergies are possible though.
Should most people avoid figs in their diets? I would say a resounding no! Fresh fruits are a healthy treat rivaling any other. The biggest problem I have with fresh ones is that they are extremely perishable. Even in the refrigerator they don’t keep very long, so we often must preserve them by drying or canning.
Dried or processed figs may be high in sugars but they still contain large amounts of fiber and are a rich source of potassium and calcium. What gives figs their diet killing reputation is what you do with them. Adding additional sugar and incorporating them into floury greasy dough pretty much makes any fruit less healthy.
Ted Manzer teaches agriculture at Northeastern High School.
If u planted figs when would be the best time to do it and how long would it take them to fully produce ?
In eastern NC mid September to early November and again from early March to late May is probably best
In the article you said fruit beetles “rob you”. What would be a good way to keep those pest away from your fig tree if i were to grow one?
You generally have to spray them with insecticide or try to get natural predators or parasites to attack them. Praying mantis do a pretty good job.
What would be good climate condtions for a fig tree to grow fully?
Figs need full sun for at least half of the day and they won’t grow too far north of here because they can’t stand winter temperatures much colder than 10 degrees.
Never knew that the fig tree gives off a skin eratation from the branches. How would you treat that if in contact with it?
An antihistamine like benadryl would work. Jewelweed would lessen the irritation too.
What do latex and fig clipping have in common making people with a latex allgery avoid them?
They are both comprised of the same chemical. Latex can be an irritant to some.
whenever i hear about figs i always think of fig newtons.. why do deer not eat figs?
I think it probably has a lot to do with the bitter latex in the stems.
what are some other benefits that may come from figs that not many people know about?
Ididnt know figs were green and that big.
Figs are nasty tasting to me, but many make jams and all with these fruits.
i have never had figs but i have had people tell me its good and then some tell me its nasty.
i would have never thought a fig could be use for disease and pest resistance.
I like figs i think they are a very good tasting. I mainly thought they were used for food and were big ingredients in jams and jellies, but it seems like they have uses for diease and pest control
my grandparents have two fig trees, and they are always making jams. I believed i have tried one before and didnt think it was half bad. i feel like the birds always knock them off the tree thou, which really cuts back of what we pick.
how long does it take for a fig to become edible?
I never knew you could eat figs raw and that deers wouldn’t eat them.
Why dont deers it figs???? My grandma has a fig tree but i have never ate them
I think it is really cool thath it can get rid of deseases
how come deer do not eat figs
The way i always know which one is a fig tree is because the leaf is kinda like a giant five finger hand
i never knew that deer didnt eat figs.
Figs are delicious when picked at the right time! But why do deer not eat them? Some type of oil on the skin or something?
Ive heard about figs many times in my life but i never knew they were a fruit tree…Very Interesting might have to try these one time