The fig tree (Ficus carica L.) grows well in temperate, tropical and sub-tropical regions. Around 1,000 varieties of fig trees compose the family of Moraceae, according to the Purdue University. The tree normally only grows to approximately 50 feet. The trunk remains small, normally never exceeding 7 inches in diameter. Within the the tree flows a milky latex sap.
Root System and Foliage
The root system of the fig tree is quite large and spreads outwards 50 feet and descends at least 20 feet downward. The foliage of the tree is green, deciduous and normally has three to seven lobes. The leaf margins appear irregular and measure up to 10 inches in both length and width.
Depending on the variety of fig tree, the fruit measures from 1 to 4 inches and is either pear-shaped, turbinate or obovoid in appearance. Fruit colors appear yellow, green, purple and bronze. Each fruit contains from 30 to 1,600 seeds per fruit, depending on the variety. The skin of the fig is extremely thin. The meat is often white, yellow, pink or purple and exceptionally sweet when the fig is fully ripe.
Depending on the fig tree variety pollination occurs in different ways. A few species are both male and female, but they require pollination to occur by a unique wasp (Blastophaga grossorum). The Smyrna fig must be planted close to the Caprifig varieties to insure pollination and proper fruit production.
The fig prefers a soil pH of 6.0 and 6.5. It grows well in a wide range of soils but prefers sandy loam. A planting location that offers full sunlight is required or the tree will never produce abundant fruit. The branches and trunk are very sensitive to extremely hot sunlight and should always be painted with a think white latex paint if exposed to the sun after pruning.
The fig tree grows well in dry, warm climates. Extensive rain during fruit production will often cause the fruit to drop and split. When dormant the fig tree can withstand temperatures that dip to 15 degrees F---but if a sudden cold snap occurs during the active growing phase of the fig tree, it will be damaged if the temperature dips below 30 degrees F. The tree does require a chilling time of less then 300 hours per year to produce fruit.