The genus Ficus includes species ranging in number from 600 to more than 1900, with most found in the tropics or subtropics and only a handful with fruits considered edible (reviewed in Condit, 1969). The cultivated fig, Ficus carica L., (Moraceae), is clearly of greatest importance as a source of human food. The fig fruit has long been associated with horticulture in the Mediterranean region (Zohary and Spiegel-Roy, 1975) and is considered to have been “first brought into cultivation in southern Arabia” (Storey, 1975). Wild or “nearly wild” figs are reported throughout much of the Middle East and Mediterranean region (De Candolle, 1886). Cultivated figs are reported to have become established across the Mediterranean region ≈6000 years ago, reaching England by 500 ce (Ferguson et al., 1990). Interestingly, the fossil record shows a prehistoric distribution of Ficus carica across southern Europe (De Candolle, 1886).
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