Daniel Butler uncovered fascinating facts about countless tree species in How to Plant a Tree. His findings on the fig are rather surprising.
- We can all agree on figs. The fig is the first plant specifically mentioned in the Bible, it is listed as approved food in the Torah, and there is a chapter named after it in the Qu’ran. Buddha is said to have found enlightenment while meditating under a sacred fig, and the species is the “world tree” of Hinduism.
- What an odd choice… The fig has long been associated fertility. It is thus ironic that its leaves have been used prudishly to cover the genitalia of classical statues – usually long after the carving was made. This may be because Adam and Eve covered their nakedness with fig leaves after eating the forbidden fruit in the Book of Genesis.
- How healthy! Fig trees are prized for their succulent fruit. That ‘fruit’ is actually a flower that both blooms and a seeds inside a fleshy coating. It is very nutritious, and although rich in natural sugars, it is one of the highest plant sources of calcium, fiber, and antioxidants. It dries well, which made it a perfect food for early nomadic farmers long before grains were domesticated.