Figs

We’ve had no luck trying to grow figs here. We’ve planted trees several times, but none have survived.

Meanwhile, just a half mile up the road, my mother has a fig tree that is in her way. So every year or so she cuts it down. But it always springs back to life, heavy with fruit, mocking me.

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I recently came across a fascinating article about figs (HERE). Here’s an interesting excerpt from it:

Although many people dismiss figs as a geriatric delicacy or the sticky stuff inside bad cookies, they are, in fact, something awesome: enclosed flowers that bloom modestly inward, unlike the flamboyant showoffs on other plants. Bite a fig in half and you’ll discover a core of tiny blossoms.

All kinds of critters, not only humans, frequent fig trees, but the plants owe their existence to what may be evolution’s most intimate partnership between two species. Because a fig is actually a ball of flowers, it requires pollination to reproduce, but, because the flowers are sealed, not just any bug can crawl inside. That task belongs to a minuscule insect known as the fig wasp, whose life cycle is intertwined with the fig’s. Mother wasps lay their eggs in an unripe fig. After their offspring hatch and mature, the males mate and then chew a tunnel to the surface, dying when their task is complete. The females follow and take flight, riding the winds until they smell another fig tree. (One species of wasp, in Africa, travels ten times farther than any other known pollinator.) When the insects discover the right specimen, they go inside and deposit the pollen from their birthplace. Then the females lay new eggs, and the cycle begins again. For the wasp mother, however, devotion to the fig plant soon turns tragic. A fig’s entranceway is booby-trapped to destroy her wings, so that she can never visit another plant. When you eat a dried fig, you’re probably chewing fig-wasp mummies, too.

Wasp mummies don’t sound appetizing to me, but there’s no denying the deliciousness of a freshly picked fig. I highly recommend the linked article for more interesting cultural, scientific and historical fig facts.

I’m more determined than ever to grow figs here, so we’ll plant again in a few weeks.

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