The common fig tree is a deciduous, spreading, multi-trunk tree with smooth, gray bark that grows to heights of fifteen to thirty feet and has a wide but low, open canopy. It has large multi-lobed, showy, dark green foliage and produces small, inconspicuous flowers. The fig tree usually sets two crops of fruit during the warm season. The first crop appears in spring when the leaves first emerge. The second crop produces fruit into late summer to early fall. The edible, brownish-purple fruit is pollinated by a small wasp that enters the flower through a small opening. The fruit has high sugar content and can be eaten fresh, dried, or canned and is used in a number of recipes. It does not last long on the tree after ripening. In the winter, the foliage drops from the tree, and when bare of leaves, it creates a distinctive and interesting silhouette in the landscape. There are many different varieties of the fig tree. Two of the most common in the Southwest desert are ‘Black Mission’ and ‘Brown Turkey’. It is native to Southeast Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean areas from Greece to Turkey where it is found growing in rocks or in shrubby areas. The fig is grown commercially in Texas, California, Oregon, and Washington.
The common fig is drought-resistant once established, but likes regular, deep irrigations for the first few years after planting. It prefers well-draining soil high in organic matter, and tolerates full sun or filtered shade. If planting more than one tree, space each one about twenty to thirty feet apart to allow a natural sprawl. Apply ammonium phosphate fertilizer in spring and early fall during the growing season. This tree is hardy to fifteen to twenty degrees Fahrenheit.