The Common Fig, Ficus carica, is a deciduous tree growing to heights of up to 6 metres. It originates from the Middle East but is now found all over the Mediterranean area due to its liking for dry and sunny areas.
It grows wild all over the place, from hillsides to rocky areas close to the sea and there are a lot of them scattered all over Nerja.
The edible fig was one of the first plants to be cultivated by humans and was a common food source for the Romans.
Figs can be eaten fresh (delicious) or dried, but most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed forms, since the ripe fruit does not transport well and once picked, does not keep very well. A bit like chirimoyas (custard apples), best eaten almost straight from the tree.
This one is growing in, or through, a wall along the MA-5105 (Frigiliana Road) just past the petrol station.
The fig has a very aggressive root system, as can be seen from the picture above, which is why it is not generally grown in urban areas. Walls will not stop the roots seeking out water sources.
The fruits look like this when they are about ripe.
There are a number of fig trees on the rocky area between Calahonda and Carabeo beaches as well as along the rio Chillar riverbed.
There are often two crops of figs each year, the first or breva crop developing in the spring on last year’s shoot growth. The main fig crop develops on the current year’s shoot growth and ripens in the late summer or autumn. The main crop is generally superior in both quantity and quality than the breva crop, although some cultivars produce good breva crops.
The ‘breva’ crop is often to be seen on sale in the local shops in Nerja and is clearly marked ‘breva’.
In the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve are said to have used fig leaves to cover their nakedness after eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.