Ficus carica L. - syn.Ficus caprificus Risso - Moraceae - common fig, edible fig, Echte Feige, Feigenbaum
Deciduous shrub or small tree, up to 5m tall, native from Northwest India to the Mediterranean, cultivated; leaves alternate, broadly ovate with 3-5 ovate lobes, thickly papery, abaxially gray; figs axillary on normal leafy shoots, solitary, purplish red to yellow when mature.
„The complex inflorescence consists of a hollow fleshy structure called the syconium, which is lined with numerous unisexual flowers. The flower itself is not visible from outside the syconium, as it blooms inside the infructescence. Although commonly referred to as a fruit, the fig is actually the infructescence or scion of the tree, known as a false fruit or multiple fruit, in which the flowers and seeds are borne. It is a hollow-ended stem containing many flowers. The small orifice (ostiole) visible on the middle of the fruit is a narrow passage, which allows the specialized fig wasp Blastophaga psenes to enter the fruit and pollinate the flower, whereafter the fruit grows seeds.“ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_fig
Ficus carica is a dioecious species pollinated by a specific wasp, Blastophaga psenes L. Male trees produce only figs with pollen and fig wasps (pollen carriers), while female figs produce only seeds. Pollinators are able to discriminate between receptive and non-receptive figs based alone on volatiles. Pentane extracts of non-receptive male and female figs contained mainly sesquiterpenes (like caryophyllene and germacrene D) and benzyl alcohol. Principle compounds found in extracts of receptive male and female figs were linalool, linalool oxides (furanoid and pyranoid), benzyl alcohol, cinnamic aldehyde, cinnamic alcohol, and indol. Moreover, receptive male figs produced benzaldehyde and eugenol. All figs contained the furanocoumarines, angelicin and bergapten.
[Volatile compounds from extracts of figs of Ficus carica., Gibernau, M., Buser, H.R., Frey, J.E., Hossaert-McKey, M., Phytochemistry, 46(2), 1997, 241-244]
[Are olfactory signals sufficient to attract fig pollinators?., Gibernau, M., Hossaert-McKey, M., Frey, J., Kjellberg, F., Ecoscience, 5(3), 1998, 306-311]
Figs which are intended for drying are harvested when fully ripe, when the water content of the fruit on the tree has already dropped (by 30-50%). Water content of ripe figs is lowered on drying to 33-18%, sugar content rises to 60%.
„… the volatile compound profiles of two characteristic Portuguese white varieties (“Pingo de Mel” and “Branca Tradicional”) was determined by HS-SPME and GC/FID. Leaves, pulps and peels, submitted to freezing and lyophilisation treatments, were analysed… The two varieties presented a similar profile composed of eight volatile compounds: acetaldehyde, ethyl acetate, methanol, ethanol, hexanal, limonene, (E)-2-hexenal and octanal. The total volatile content was different among the vegetal materials, following the order leaves > peels > pulps. Methanol and ethanol are the major compounds in all samples.“
[Determination of low molecular weight volatiles in Ficus carica using HS-SPME and GC/FID., Oliveira, A.P., Silva, L.R., Andrade, P.B., Valentão, P., Silva, B.M., Pereira, J.A., de Pinho, P.G., Food chemistry, 121(4), 2010, 1289-1295] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814610001342
Fructose and glucose concentrations of ripe fruits averaged 8.2% and 6.2%, respectively. Sucrose was detected in small amounts (0.14% on average), reaching only 3% of total sugars in some accessions. Brown and purple fig accessions had higher contents than other color groups… „The sugar composition of fig fruit can influence perceived fruit sweetness. Fructose has a higher relative sweetness than glucose (Setser, 1993). Therefore, the perception of sweetness of in fig accessions is likely due to the prevalence of fructose.“
[Phytochemical and antioxidant properties of selected fig (Ficus carica L.) accessions from the eastern Mediterranean region of Turkey., Çalişkan, O., Polat, A.A., Scientia Horticulturae, 128(4), 2011, 473-478] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304423811000926
„In figs, monomer sugars predominate, which is important nutritional information, and the content of sugars as well as organic acids in fresh figs was lower than in dried fruits. However, the best sugar/organic acid ratio was measured after the sun-drying process. Analysis of individual phenolic compounds revealed a higher content of all phenolic groups determined after the oven-drying process, with the exception of cyanidin-3-O-rutinoside. Similarly, higher total phenolic content and antioxidant activity were detected after the drying process. With these results it can be concluded that the differences in analyzed compounds in fresh and dried figs are significant. The differences between the sun-dried and oven-dried fruits were determined in organic acids, sugars, chlorogenic acid, catechin, epicatechin, kaempferol-3-O-glucoside, luteolin-8-C-glucoside, and total phenolic contents. The results indicate that properly dried figs can be used as a good source of phenolic compounds.“
[Effect of drying of figs (Ficus carica L.) on the contents of sugars, organic acids, and phenolic compounds., Slatnar, A., Klancar, U., Stampar, F., Veberic, R., Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 59(21), 2011, 11696]
„In general, aldehydes and terpenes were the major volatile group responsible aroma for peels and pulps in fig fruits. Total aldehydes were higher in pulps than peel in all cultivars. However total terpenes were higher in peel rather than in pulp. Among terpenes, β-caryophyllene were the major volatile compounds found in both peel and pulp. Phenol, 2,6-bis (1,1-dimethylethyl)-4-methyl [BHT: synthetic antioxidant!!] were the second important group responsible for fig aroma presented in both peel and pulp. Among aldehydes, 2-hexanal were found in high proportion only in pulp in all cultivars. The other groups responsible fig aroma were 2-furancarboxaldehyde 5-(hydroxymethyl), benzaldehyde, furfural and germacrene D. α-curcumene, β-bisabolene and β-sesquiphellandrene were determined only in cv. ‘Bursa Siyahi’ peel and pulp and discriminated this cultivar from the others.“
[Volatile compounds determined by HS/GC-MS technique in peel and pulp of fig (Ficus carica L.) cultivars grown in Mediterranean region of Turkey., Gozlekci, S., Kafkas, E., Ercisli, S., Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici Cluj-Napoca, 39(2), 2011, 105-108] http://www.notulaebotanicae.ro/index.php/nbha/article/viewFile/6261/6449
Major volatile compound found in dried figs was benzaldehyde (24.7%), followed by hexanal (23.8%), furfural (9.6%), 3-methyl butanal (5.7%), 2-methyl butanal (4.0%) and pentanal (3.8%). Ethyl acetate (2.9%) was the most abundant ester found in dried figs, along with minor (0.1-0.5%) amounts of ethyl esters of C4/C5 acids. Other components were 2-pentyl furane (2.9%), 2-ethyl furane (0.9%), butyrolactone (2.2%), ethanol (1.1%) and δ-decalactone (0.2%). Pretreatment of figs with ascorbic acid, sulfur dioxide or citric acid decreased significantly the drying time, but had great influence on aroma volatiles by lowering furfural (4.8-5.5%) and making ethyl acetate a major component (19-55%).
[Characterisation of volatiles in dried white varieties figs (Ficus carica L.)., Mujić, I., Kralj, M.B., Jokić, S., Jug, T., Šubarić, D., Vidović, S., Jarni, K., Journal of food science and technology, 51(9), 2014, 1837-1846]
Fig leaf absolute
The leaves of Ficus carica are extracted with solvent to obtain a concrete, which is subsequent treated with alcohol. The residue represents a dark green to brownish green viscous liquid of a sweet, green, herbaceous, somewhat woody odor with a mossy undertone. The first distillation range (30-160°C/0.05 Torr) of this fig leaf absolute is the olfactory relevant part - only 1% (!). Main components of this part are hydrocarbons like caryophyllene, α- and β-farnesene, furthermore linalool, benzyl acetate, (Z)-3-hexenyl tiglate, methyl salicylate, β-ionone, and (Z)-3-hexenyl benzoate. Minor components are (Z)-3-hexenyl butyrate, (Z)-3-hexenyl 2-methylbutyrate, methyl benzoate, linalyl acetate, β-cyclocitral, safranal, α-terpineol, benzyl alcohol, geranyl acetate, phenylethanol, β-damascenone, geranylacetone, jasmone, caryophyllene oxide, and cinnamyl acetate e.g. Further minor but olfactory important constituents were pyridines and pyrazines like 2-isobutyl 4-methylpyridine (tobacco-like, green), 2-isobutanoyl 4-methylpyridine, 2-isobutenyl 4-methylpyridine (tobacco-like, bitter, fruity-floral), 2-methoxy 3-isopropylpyrazine, 2-methoxy 3-sec.butylylpyrazine, 2-methoxy 3-isobutylpyrazine e.g.
[Kaiser, R., „New natural products of structural and olfactory interest identified in fig leaf absolute (Ficus carica L.).“ Progress in essential oil research (1986): 227-239]
„Based on sensitization reactions at 5% and strong phototoxic reactions, the Panel concluded that the material should be banned. A RIFM Advisory Letter (RIFM, 1980) was issued to all members stating the potential for induction of skin and phototoxic reactions. As a result, an IFRA Guideline (now renamed a Standard) was issued in October, 1980 (IFRA, 1980), which stated, ‘‘Fig Leaf Absolute should not be used as a fragrance ingredient based on test results of RIFM showing sensitizing and extreme phototoxic potential for this material.’’ A RIFM
monograph then was published in November, 1982.“
[The safety assessment of fragrance materials., Bickers, D.R., Calow, P., Greim, H.A., Hanifin, J.M., Rogers, A.E., Saurat, J.H., Tagami, H., Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 37(2), 2003, 218-273] http://fragrancematerialsafetyresource.elsevier.com/sites/default/files/AB-2-Bickers-Safety.pdf
The volatile oil from the leaves of Ficus carica, isolated by hydrodistillation, contained mainly (Z)-3-hexenyl benzoate (19.8%), n-tetracosane (11.6%), n-hexadecanoic acid (9.2%), n-docosane (7.7%), (E)-2-hexenal (7.2%), phytol (6.7%) and n-nonanal (3.9%).
[Ayoub, N., Singab, A. N., Mostafa, N., & Schultze, W. (2010). Volatile constituents of leaves of Ficus carica Linn. grown in Egypt. Journal of essential oil bearing plants, 13(3), 2010, 316-321]
Masclef,A., Atlas des plantes de France, vol.3 t.289, (1893)
© Rolf Marschner (2009), www.botanische-spaziergaenge.at