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How to Identify Fig Trees

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How to Identify Fig Trees

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Overview

The fig tree (Ficus carica L.) is a fruit-bearing, tall tree thought to have originated in western Asia. The fig tree is commonly grown in warmer, drier climates and is hardy down to about 15 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit when dormant. A deciduous tree, the fig usually grows to 30 feet tall but can reach a height of 50 feet. The fig tree's branches are wide-spreading with weak wood and are self-pollinating. These large trees must grow in full sunlight in order to produce fruit.

General Fig Tree Identification

Step 1

Identify the fig tree by inspecting its leaves, which should be large, singular and lobed. The bright-green leaves of the fig tree will have hairs on the surfaces and can grow up to 12 inches long.

Step 2

Look for twisted, muscular branches with trunk bark that contains large nodules.

Step 3

Study the flowers to identify the fig tree. The fig tree's tiny flowers are clustered inside of the green fig fruits cases, which form in the spring and develop on the previous season's growth.

Step 4

Identify the fig tree by studying its fruits, which are green, brown or purple at maturity. The figs have a tough outer peel with a white rind, inside of which is gelatinous flesh and seed mass.

Identify Specific Fig Varieties

Step 1

Identify the Black Jack fig tree by its dark-blue, bulbous fruits. The Italian Everbearing fig tree also has bluish-purple fruits, but they're lighter in color with reddish-pink flesh inside.

Step 2

Identify the Black Mission fig tree's fruits by their pear-like shape and dark brown color. The Texas Everbearing fig tree also has brownish-colored fruits, but they have slight "necks" at the tops that are a lighter color.

Step 3

Spot the Brown Turkey fig tree by looking for its dark-colored, teardrop-shaped fruits that have hints of deep red on the exterior. The Celestial fig, however, has more elongated and lighter purplish-brown fruits with pink fleshy interiors.

Step 4

Decipher between the Conadria and White Kadota fig trees, which both have fruits with green peels. The Condadria's fruits are pear-shaped, while the White Kadota's fruits are rounder and have a slightly striped exterior.

Tips and Warnings

  • You can slice open a stem on a fig tree to identify it by looking for the pithy, soft interior. Just be sure to wear gloves, because the milky latex-like sap can irritate your skin.

References

  • California Rare Fruit Growers: Fig Fruit Facts
  • Willis Orchard Co.: Fig Trees

Who Can Help

  • AgriLife Extension: Home Fruit Production -- Figs
Keywords: identify fig trees, fig tree varieties, fig tree description

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.

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