Why do Figs have so many Seeds?

The fig is one of the most remarkable fruits in the world. It has been valued as food by man since prehistoric times, at one time it was the staple diet of slaves. From the juice of figs are made alcohol, wine, and a dye for cloth. The leaves are used to polish ivory, while cord is made from the bark of the fig tree.

They are many varieties of figs, but the most delicious one known to most of us is the Smyrna (Izmir) fig, which is named after  the city in Turkey. This is fig is now cultivated in California. When we look at the large, fleshy fig what we see is really a bag-like structure, nearly closed at its top.

Inside are many true flowers which produce the pollen and what we call "seeds". But these are not seeds at all. They are the true fruits of the fig!


In the cultivation of smyrna figs, a very interesting process take place. The Smyrna fig can be pollinated only by pollen from the Capri fig. Although the Capri fig bears a great deal of pollen, this can be released from the Capri fig and reach the fruits of the Smyrna fig only with the help of a tiny wasp-like insect known as the fig wasp.

The fig wasp lives in the Capri figs until it is ready to lay its eggs. It then leaves the Capri fig and carries the pollen from the Capri fig on the flowers.

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