The American Wisdom Series

Pamphlet 1765 Figtree kc 5-3

Understand, there are both good figs and bad figs, as in edible figs and non-edible figs!

You know what? It is now time to "pause for the cause" and learn the horticulture of figs and understand that there are both good figs and bad figs, as in edible figs and non-edible figs! Why? Because in Jeremiah 24 the prophet is going to see two baskets of figs set out in the land of Judea. Here is a sneak preview of what he saw: Jeremiah 24:2 "One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad." Then in our next and final study of the Parable of the Fig Tree we can document when and where the fig tree was set out, signaling as Christ said the beginning of the final generation when all these things He foretold us of (i.e. prophetic events) would come to pass!

The following information is taken from the:

Extension Horticulture Information Resource
The Agriculture Program of the Texas A&M University System

"The fig fruit is unique. Unlike most fruit in which the edible structure is matured ovary tissue, the fig's edible structure is actually stem tissue. The fig fruit is an inverted flower with both the male and female flower parts enclosed in stem tissue. This structure is known botanically as a syconium. At maturity the interior of the fig contains only the remains of these flower structures, including the small gritty structures commonly called seeds. Actually, these so-called seeds usually are nothing more than unfertilized ovaries that failed to develop. They impart the resin-like flavor associated with figs."

Fig Types

Caprifig. The Caprifig produces a small non-edible fruit; however, the flowers inside the Caprifig fruit produce pollen. This pollen is essential for fertilizing fruit of the Smyrna and San Pedro types. The pollen is transported from the Caprifig to the pollen-sterile types by a Blastophaga wasp. Commercial growers hang baskets of Blastophaga-infested Caprifigs so that the wasps can effectively fertilize the fruit. Caprifigs were grown successfully at Del Rio before 1901.

Though it is not as common a term today as it once was, the word WASP stands for White Anglo Saxon Protestant. Isn't that interesting? Now consider the Smyrna Fig.
Smyrna. The Smyma fig varieties produce large edible fruit with true seeds. The Blastophaga wasp and Caprifigs are required for normal fruit development. If this fertilization process does not occur, fruit will not develop properly and will fall from the tree. Smyrna-type figs are commonly sold as dried figs.
Here is some more on the pollenation process of the Smyrna fig by the Caprifig from
"The story of the Smyrna fig must include the story of the caprifig. Briefly stated, for fruit development to occur, the Smyrna fig needs pollen from the caprifig. Kadota and other common figs do not need the caprifig, even though they lack pollen, because syconium development is "parthenocarpic," i.e., it proceeds directly without pollination and fertilization (see also pineapple and banana).

Fig pollen is transferred from male flowers (stamens) to female flowers (pistils) by an insect called a fig wasp (Blastophaga). Entomologists have learned that fig wasps overwinter as larvae in the pistils (as galls) of the fruit from the winter crop of caprifigs. Caprifig produces three crops of figs per year, and the winter one is called the mamme crop. In April, the larva changes into an adult. A male emerges from the pistil and promptly impregnates a female, while she is still in her pistil. Soon after the wingless male dies; most male carcasses remain in the syconium. Meanwhile, the winged, gravid females emerge and leave the fig through the ostiole. Eventually a female flies to a new, young, flowering caprifig of the spring crop (profichi crop) and enters through the ostiole. The female oviposits eggs in some of the pistils, one per ovary, and then carries pollen to the other pistils for seed set. This enables the fruit to mature, and her young therefore to receive nourishment. The female dies within the developing fruit. After a short period, the new generation of fig wasps emerges; males impregnate females and die while gravid females escape to colonize new flowering figs. However, the profichi caprifig has many male flowers near the ostiole, and the wasp thereby carries much pollen with her to the next syconium.

In the case of fruit set for Smyrna figs, branches with profichi figs of the caprifig are collected and hung in the late afternoon within the fig tree canopy. The next morning the fig wasps emerge from the profichi figs and then transfer pollen to the young Smyrna pistils. Enough fertilization takes place to promote Smyrna fruit development. This process is called caprification. Caprification was practiced for centuries in the Old World without understanding the pollination mechanism; but the process had to be verified and understood in California (by Eisen in the 1890s) before it could be accepted as sound horticultural practice. Caprifigs were imported to California from Algiers in 1899, which began the western Smyrna fig industry. Three to five caprifigs are grown at fig orchards for every 100 Smyrna fig plants, to provide the necessary pollen and fig wasps."

Though we have sufficiently documented the edible and the non-edible figs, the following information continued from Texas A&M may be of interest to those who like to dig a little deeper.

Do not apply fertilizer at planting time. Fig trees survive better if set 2 to 4 inches deeper than they were grown in the nursery. Cut them back when transplanting. This "heading back" develops lateral branches and reduces water loss from the above-ground portion. Since the root system may be damaged during transplanting operations, water uptake may be reduced greatly for a short time.

Fig trees planted at the beginning of the dormant season often develop root systems before leafing out in the spring. This can be advantageous; however, young trees are more susceptible to cold injury. In areas where cold damage may occur, it is often advisable to delay transplanting until just before dormancy is broken in late winter.

Young trees to be transplanted should be dug with care to prevent root damage. Inspect trees bought from nurseries to ensure that roots are healthy and are not damaged. Remove any broken or dried roots. Dig a hole deeper and wider than necessary for the root system. Place the tree upright at the proper depth. Crumble the soil around the roots, and pack it down several times during the filling operation to bring all roots into contact with moist soil. After planting, water the tree to settle the soil firmly around the roots. If conditions are extremely dry, watering before the hole is completely filled is beneficial.


For top quality, allow figs to ripen fully on the tree. But they must be picked as they ripen; otherwise, spoilage from the dried fruit beetle can occur. On-the-tree spoilage or souring is caused by microorganisms in the fully ripe fruit. These organisms are usually carried into the open eye of the fig by insects, particularly the dried fruit beetle. Daily harvests and the removal of overripe, spoiled figs can greatly reduce spoilage problems. This is particularly true of varieties which have an open eye.

This next section on common causes of "fruit failure" should be especially interesting to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Check out the first condition.


Condition Probable cause Suggested remedies
All fruit drops when one-third full size. Wrong variety for area (requires pollination) Destroy tree and replant with recommended variety.
Leaves drop when mature; fruit withers and fails to mature. Fig rust or other leaf-spot diseases, or a twig blight Use neutral copper spray. Rake up and burn old leaves.<
Fruiting is poor; tree growth is retarded. Roots have knots or galls and are distorted. Nematode damage, poor soil conditions or excess water Mulch and keep moisture level adequate.
Fruit fails to mature; leaves are small. Vigorous new wood arises from the base. Low temperatures have killed some stem tissue. Cut tree back to ground level and develop a new top from suckers.
Fruit sours and many split. unsuitable variety or unusually wet year If unsuitable variety, replant or pick fruit before maturity and preserve.
Fruit is tough and falls prematurely during hot, dry weather. (Celeste only). Excessive heat No control
Other pests-Birds, such as blue jays, mockingbirds and grackles, cause fruit losses each year. There is no suitable control methos; however, early morning harvests prevent loss to some extent. Also, there are a number of synthetic nettings available which may be used to cover trees during the ripening season.

In our next study we will go to the scriptures and to the history of the 20th century and conclude our study of the Parable of the Fig Tree.

To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.

The "American Wisdom Series"


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