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Weird fact about figs!

  • Weird fact about figs!

Most dried figs you eat contain at least one dead body of a mature female pollinating wasp. This is because the female wasp pushes her way through a small natural opening in the immature fruit of the fig, often losing her wings and most of her antennae, in order to lay her eggs. In doing this, she also deposits pollen from the host fig, which pollinates the female flowers on the inside surface of the fig. As soon as she has laid her eggs, she dies.

But there is more tragedy to come, as the wasp eggs hatch and some of them are males, who immediately mate with the females as soon as they pass the pupal stage and tunnel out of the fig. The males are wingless and cannot survive outside of the fig and so die, but their tunnels allow the females to escape and fly to other fig trees, picking up pollen from their original tree, as they go.

But for any very strict vegan fresh fig-lovers now feeling a little worried, fresh figs, including the popular Turkey fig (pictured), are usually self-pollinating (parthenocarpic) and so are not visited by fig wasps at all! It is only figs like the Smyrna fig, which is grown mainly for drying, which contain the wasps.

Comments (2)

  1. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    How fascinating! We have a large mature Turkey fig tree. It has produced more figs than ever this year - 100 or more - and for once, they are ripening properly and are great to eat. I am assuming it's the good summer; but I am also wondering whether the heavy prune I gave the tree in early Spring last year has contributed to the glut. I pruned it at the start of what became, if you remember, the coldest March ever! The tree didn't produce a single leaf for 3 months and I thought I'd killed it. Then it slowly came back and we now have all this fruit the following year. Does anyone know if this might have made a difference? I don't think I'll risk pruning it so severely that early again.

    • Weird fact about figs!
    • Weird fact about figs!
    • Weird fact about figs!
  2. Grower


    I thought that in the UK we just don't have the fig wasps, which is why our figs don't contain seeds?

    That is a lovely fig tree and a splendid wall.

    I grow my figs in tubs, and had a reasonable ccrop but something stole most of them. :(

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