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Ficus carica

Plant them in hot spots for fresh or dried fruit, hearty jams, and polite Fig leaf cover!

Hardy from Zone 6-10. Between 4-12 feet tall and similar width (depending on winter dieback). Self-fertile.

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Humans have been eating figs about as along as anything else. This Mulberry relative has been cultivated in the Mediterranean for around 6,000 years. They’re high in B vitamins, carbs, and fiber and have the highest mineral content of all common fruits, with loads of potassium, iron, and calcium. Fruit poultices have been used on tumors, a leaf tea for treating diabetes and kidney and liver calcifications, its juice relieves sore throats and constipation, and the stem’s white latex, which can be incredibly irritating to the skin, has been used for warts, ulcers, and a source of latex in rubber. Before the colonization of sugar, Figs commonly sweetened desserts. Interestingly, the fruits aren’t really fruits; they’re synconium! Dozens to hundreds of flowers grow into an enclosed hollow sac with a small opening at the top for pollination by a wasp.

Figs have been symbols of peace and abundance, such as in the Jewish prophetic tradition: "Everyone will sit beneath their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:4). The prophet Muhammad wished to see Figs in paradise more than any other fruit. In ancient Greece, however, "Fig" was a slang term for female genitalia. Pretty versatile plant!

In our gardens in the Shenandoah Valley, Figs die back every year from hard winters, but always spring back with incredible force to fruit again. We sometimes mulch them to keep them warm and always plant them in full sun and dry soils. We currently have Chicago Hardy, bred to endure winters in the Windy City with stems hardy to 10°F and roots hardy to -20°!