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Desert fig

Introduction of Desert fig

            Scientific name - Ficus platypoda

There are two categories of fruits, on one side you have fruits and on the other you have fruits that turn into dried fruits. We are further going to discuss about the most celebrated dried fruit and also one of the most unique fruits of all time the desert fig. scientifically known as ficusplatypoda (desert fig) belongs to the Moraceae family. Popularly known as desert fig or rock fig, this fruit has an interesting facts attached to its existence.

Desert fig is and endemic plant, to familiarize with the term endemic it simply means in the (ecological state) a plant or an animal belonging exclusively only to one region, national, climatic region or a defined habitat. These plants are exclusively confined to only one place and cannot be spotted elsewhere. Making them one rare plant. Desert fig is mainly grown in Northern and Central parts of Australia. Adding on to its uniqueness this plant is a lithophyte plant, lithophyte planrs are ones that grow on rocks. These plans survive on rainwaters on the rocks and also feces of other plants and also their own dead cells. Growing up to 10 meters high these shrubs have fine hair on them and they are usually seen clinging in rocks. Other plants growing as lithophytes apart from desert figs are algae, ferns, liverworts and Paphiopedilum orchids are a few to mention. This small shrub grows brachlet that are covered in fine hairs that helps them retain moisture in hot climate. The leaves of this plant are alternately arranged making anoval shaped leaf that measures 5.3 to 16.7 long and widens upto 3.1 to 13.3 cm wide. The downside or undersurface of the plant has a furry texture to it and it bears oval shaped fruits that are visually appealing as they are seen growing in hues of pinks, yellow, orange, purple and sometimes even red.

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Nutritional Value of Desert fig

Energy 74 Kcal 4%
Carbohydrates 19.18 g 15%
Protein 0.75 g 1.5%
Total Fat 0.30 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 2.9 g 7%
Folates 6 g 1.5%
Niacin 0.400 mg 2.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.300 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.113 mg 9%
Riboflavin 0.050 mg 4%
Thiamin 0.060 5%
Vitamin A 142 IU 5%

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The pollination process

As unique as the habitat and the existence of this plant sounds, one may wonder what else could be different in this already special shrub. The fertilization process, the most important stage where deflowering and fruiting takes places is highly dependent on other living being. The cycle of life of the desert fig as they say is always hooked on a unique form of fertilization that involves a highly dedicated species of wasp who are themselves dependent on the flowers of desert figs for their reproduction. This is a clear case of interdependence where both the creatures benefit by relying on each other for their pollination and insemination.

Desert fig individually produces three types of flowers on its shrub, there is a male flower, a long styled female flower and a short styled female flower that is also known as gall flower. Inside of these flowers contain a fruit like structure that post pollination turns out to ripen up. Herethe role of a fig wasp comes to play, a female fig wasp lays its eggs on the short styled female flowers simultaneously pollinating the long styled female flowers. There are two types of fig wasps, one that belongs to the pollinators group that stimulate pollination and the others are non-pollinators that do not contribute to the process at all. The pollinator male inseminate the female wasp and they lay their eggs in the female flowers that are receptive in nature. The population of these specialized wasp must exceed a minimum size to certify that the flowering and fruiting of the fruit takes place in a perennial fashion every year.

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Harvesting of Desert fig

Desert fig is renowned for its ability to produce a large crop of figs every year. The crop produced by desert fig tree is known as breba crop where fig actually grows from the mature wood from thew previous year's harvest. The breba crop is usually known to ripen in midsummer period, where as the second round of crop ripens in the month of September. There are many species of figs each varying from sizes depending on the size the eggs making it small or sometimes even extra-large. The yellowish green coloured figs have a very sweet center that looks like a strawberry center and usually these figs look bigger than most of the other figs. The best variety of figs grows well only in cooler climatic regions that are highly elevated. The absence of harsh summer heat is always preferred.

Figs are a delight to eat when they are picked right from the tree, one must ensure that they are picked on the right time or else they might become dinner, breakfast or lunch of other birds and squirrels. These fruits taste equally good even after processing them and sun drying them as dried fruits. Fig jams are quite a delicacy enjoyed by many Australians. Desert figs have been used as a key ingredient in many ice cream and baking dishes.

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Uses of Desert fig

The Desert Fig has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and is widely used to treat digestive issues, skin conditions, and even infections. In some areas, it is used to treat diabetes and hypertension. It is also believed to have an anti-carcinogenic effect, and is sometimes used as an adjunct therapy in cancer treatment.The leaves and bark of the Desert Fig are also used to make teas and tinctures. It is believed to have a calming effect and is used to reduce stress and anxiety. Its leaves can also be used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

The Desert Fig is also a popular ornamental plant, as it can tolerate long periods of drought and extreme temperatures. It is often planted in gardens, parks, and public spaces to provide shade and beauty. Its fruit can also be eaten directly, although it is usually dried and used as a flavoring or spice. In addition to its culinary and medicinal uses, the Desert Fig is an important source of food and shelter for animals and birds. Its fruit is a favorite of various species of birds and other wildlife, while its leaves and bark provide shelter and protection from the elements. Its hardiness and resistance to drought make it an important species in restoring and preserving the biodiversity of dry regions.

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