Where are wild figs from?
Wild fig trees first grew in Africa and West Asia and South Asia and around the Mediterranean Sea beginning probably about a hundred million years ago, in the time of the dinosaurs.
The Cretaceous period
History of food
When did people start to eat figs?
Many primates eat figs, and people have been eating wild figs since there first were people. People loved figs because figs are a very healthy food.
More about primates
What is calcium for?
They’re full of calcium and potassium and fiber, and they also taste delicious. You can dry figs in hot sunshine like raisins and they’ll keep all winter, too. Fig trees produce two crops every year (at least in some climates). Some people also eat the leaves of the fig tree, which is also fine.
When did people farm figs?
By about 11,000 years ago, people in West Asia had already begun to farm fig trees. Farmed figs may be the first kind of food that anybody farmed, even before wheat and barley.
History of farming
Stone Age West Asia
Stone Age timeline
All our West Asia articles
Why did people farm figs?
The big advantage to farming figs is that wild figs can only reproduce when tiny wasps get inside the fruit to get the pollen. People can reproduce figs by planting small branches from a tree to grow new trees, and in that way people can eat figs without the tiny wasps inside them.
When did wasps evolve?
Figs reach northern Europe
In the first centuries AD, the Romans brought figs with them throughout the Roman Empire – all around the Mediterranean and to northern Europe and England.
Figs come to China
Figs probably first traveled east to China along the Silk Road after the Islamic conquests, as the first time we hear about figs in China is about 700 AD, during the T’ang Dynasty, and then people in China call figs by their Arabic name, “tin”.
Early Chinese food
Figs in South Africa and the Americas
But it took a long time before people started to farm figs in southern Africa. When Spanish settlers came to Mexico and California from Spain in the 1500s, they brought figs with them and planted them in North America as well.
Medieval African food
American food and colonization
Learn by Doing – Eating Figs
More about dates
More about African food
Bibliography and further reading about figs:
plz help me karr
can u help me?
Hi, I am the figman of New Mexico and I just read the article from Karen Carr about “wHERE do figs come from?” I did like or agree with the “faulty” understanding in her second paragraph. Taking a “caprified fig”( a fig pollinated by a tiny wasp living in a mail fig introduced at the right time into the female fig) and taking a branch from it and planting it does not make it a “common fig” which is a fig the is made up of male and female parts so it is self pollinating. They are distinct most of the time except for the fig known as the “san Pedro” that is common in one fruit production and caprified in the second fruiting. I have studied figs at U C Davis, Israel, SW Turkey and have collected 93 New Mexico varieties as well as having taught workshops on fig propagation in Colorado, New Mexico and Oaxaca State Mexico FOR 12 TO 15 YEARS and I would say that this info Karen.. is not correct.. But I am willing to be wrong and learn.This is also the first article that i HAVE EVER READ SAYING FIGS were around 100million years ago. All the sources I know and have ever quoted say the fig is 60 million years and is the oldest food that we humans eat. Do you know that monkeys will fight elephants for fig tree rights? I will be in Portland, Oregon starting Jan 10 and would enjoy speaking with you as I am more excitedly conversational in “fig”. Sincerely, Lloyd Kreitzer, the figman of New Mexico http://www.landofenfigment.com PS Who.. and or what culture eats fig leaves?
Hi Lloyd! Sounds like you know a lot more about figs than I do. Thanks for taking the time to comment here: I really appreciate it. Apparently “The young leaves of the fig tree are also edible and are often used as an ingredient for soups in Ghana.” (http://blogs.worldwatch.org/nourishingtheplanet/african-rock-fig-a-fruit-with-historical-significance-and-potential-for-the-future-indigenous-crop-africa-drought-tolerant-ghana-senegal-natural-indigenous-vegetable/). I think the 100 million years figure is just me saying that figs evolved about the same time as other fruit trees, starting around 100 million years ago. You’re probably being more accurate?
The first non-wasp figs had to come from somewhere, right? I found this theory, for example: “he ancient Egyptians seized upon a species called Ficus sycomorus, whose pollinator wasp was either locally extinct or had never arrived. By rights, this species should not have yielded a single ripe fig. But through a stroke of luck or genius, farmers worked out that they could trick the tree into ripening its figs by gashing them with a blade. Before long, the figs were a mainstay of Egyptian agriculture. Farmers even trained monkeys to climb trees and harvest them.” (http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170116-the-tree-that-shaped-human-history)