A pair of green round figs surround by leaves
Ficus carica

Edible fig

Family: Moraceae
Other common names: vyeboom (Afrikaans), تين شائع (Arabic), pikondo (Basque), هەنجیری ئاسایی (Central Kurdish), 无花果 (Chinese simplified), 無花果 (Chinese traditional), obična smokva (Croatian), fíkovník smokvoň (Czech), almindelig figen (Danish), vijg (Dutch), aitoviikuna (Finnish), figuier (French), echte feige (German), Συκιά (Greek), piku (Hawaiian), תאנה (Hebrew), tin (Indonesian), fico (Italian), イチジク (Japanese), 무화과 (Korean), fiken (Norwegian), انجیر معمولی (Persian), figowiec pospolity (Polish), figo (Portuguese), chuna (Rarámuri), smochin (Romanian), Инжир (Russian), Смоква (Serbian), අත්තික්කා (Sinhala), higuera (Spanish), fikon (Swedish), มะเดื่อฝรั่ง (Thai), incir (Turkish), umkhiwane (Zulu)
IUCN Red List status: Least Concern

Over 11,000 years ago, the fig became what was probably the first cultivated fruit in human history.

Today, more than 1.3 million tonnes of figs are produced worldwide, mostly coming from the ancestral home of the fruit: the Middle East.

Fig plants were first introduced to Britain during the Roman era, and still grow as ornamentals in parks and gardens across the country.

Fig leaves are around 20 cm long and 14 cm wide, with 3 to 5 deep lobes and rough to the touch.

The flowers are very small and contained in a hollow fleshy receptacle that resembles an unripe fig called the synconium. The synconium has a small opening at the apex that allows a fig wasp (Blastophaga psenes) to enter and pollinate the flowers within. The edible fruit consists of the mature syconium containing numerous one-seeded fruits. Mature figs are 3 to 5 cm in diameter, with a green skin, ripening to purple or brown.

Read the scientific profile for the edible fig


The fig was described by the Prophet Muhammad as ‘a fruit that descended from paradise’, and eating them can ‘prevent hemorrhoids, prevent piles and help gout’.

The fig is one of the potential candidates for the forbidden fruit eaten by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Food and drink

Figs are eaten raw, but are also processed into jams and fillings for sweet treats.

Figs, raw or cooked, are often paired with goat's cheese.


Dried figs are a rich source of dietary fibre and manganese.

In traditional Mediterranean medicine, the sap from figs was used as a treatment for warts and calluses.

  • In the Quran, the fig is described as being a ‘perfect’ fruit, as it contains no pits of any kind.

  • Fig trees are gynodioecious, meaning they are either female, or hermaphroditic, although only the female tree will produce ripened, edible figs.

  • The sap of the fig plant can cause a skin inflammation if exposed to sunlight in a phenomenon called phytophotodermatitis.

a map of the world showing where the edible fig is native and introduced to
Native: Afghanistan, Cyprus, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Kriti, Lebanon-Syria, North Caucasus, Pakistan, Palestine, Tadzhikistan, Transcaucasus, Turkey, Turkmenistan, West Himalaya
Introduced: Alabama, Albania, Algeria, Andaman Is., Arkansas, Austria, Azores, Baleares, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Bulgaria, California, Canary Is., Cape Verde, Caroline Is., Chad, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Corse, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East Aegean Is., Easter Is., Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Florida, France, Germany, Gilbert Is., Great Britain, Gulf of Guinea Is., Gulf States, Hungary, India, Italy, Juan Fernández Is., Korea, Krym, Libya, Line Is., Madeira, Marianas, Marshall Is., Maryland, Massachusetts, Mauritius, Mexico Central, Mexico Southwest, Morocco, New Mexico, New York, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, Nicobar Is., Niger, Norfolk Is., North Carolina, Oman, Peru, Portugal, Réunion, Sardegna, Saudi Arabia, Sicilia, Sinai, Somalia, South Carolina, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tokelau-Manihiki, Tristan da Cunha, Tunisia, Turkey-in-Europe, Uzbekistan, Wake I., Western Sahara, Xinjiang, Yemen, Yugoslavia

Thrives in warmer environments, in a wide variety of soil types.

Kew Gardens

A botanic garden in southwest London with the world’s most diverse living plant collection.


Kew Palace

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Best time to see
Fruits: Aug, Sep, Oct
Foliage: Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct

Other plants

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The geographical areas mentioned on this page follow the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions (WGSRPD) developed by Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG).