Wednesday, February 23, 2011


24th Feb.-
Today we will look at Ficus & Fig trees again inc. Berries with a focus
Thoughts: "In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous." -from: Aristotle. Seeing the Creator in Creation is a theme from many great Masters.
One can take shelter in the peace that mother nature showers - quietly on us.
Just sharing the experience....
I have been sharing this  nature watch & study with friends for some time on this  Blog. The idea was also to promote Awareness in this year 2011 - the year of Forests and Eco protection as declared by the UNO, which is a real need. 
As one friend so very aptly wrote to me quote:
"Greening is the only way forward". 
But, sadly enough  in a 1. 3 B population in India and esp in Cities , very few today know of them or how protect them.
Man needs Trees and Trees also need Man to care for them; Although, I personally believe that Trees do more good to Mankind-than the reverse.
Trying now a sharper  focus on the 3 very popular trees in Indian prakruti and samskruti- viz. the Peepul, Banyan & Oudamber. 
They all  come in the Category of :FICUS & FIGS
1. Ashwattha or Sacred Fig tree (Peepul (Pipal) , Bodhi, Bo, or Po, (Ficus religiosa)
2. Banyan Fig (Ficus benghalensis) and
3. Oudamber or Gular (Ficus racemosa) sometimes known as Ficus glomerata.

Ficus is a genus of about 800 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemi-epiphytes in the family Moraceae.  In the tropics, the Ficus is the most species-rich plant genus in a particular forest. Also, in Asia alone, as many as 70 or more species have been found to co-exist by study reports. 

FIGS -from sources.
Figs category  seem to have wide variety –
 I was familiar with only the Anjeer figs and that too esp in ice-creams, till I started this marvellous voyage of discovery into Trees and plants. Figs are of a wider variety like the Common Fig. The common names of Oudamber Figs is cluster fig, cluster tree, country fig, redwood fig, Indian fig, crattock and ju guo rong. are seen all across India and revered. 


                                     BAKULA in Sanskrit (Mimusops)- medicinal bark , berries-

                                                                       Oudamber Figs
                                                                 Sacred Fig-Pipal
The Ashwattha (Pipal) is recorded in Hindu Shastra and covered in my earlier posts.

                                                             Ber fruit

The oldest living Pipal trees of known planting date is a Ficus regiliosa tree known as the Sri Maha Bodhi planted in the temple at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka by King Tissa in 288 BC. Thus links to Buddhism

The Common Fig tree (Ficus carica) is the first plant cited in the Bible. In Genesis 3:7 is described how Adam and Eva cover themselves with fig leaves when they discover that they are naked.

The fig fruit is also included in the list of food found in the Promised Land, according to the Thorah (Deut. 8). (They are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, dates (representing the honey).

In the deserts of Middle East Dates & Figs have been  survival food and are available and distributed to all-

There are three vegetative traits unique to figs.
a.All figs possess a white to yellowish sap (latex), some in copious quantities.
b.The twig has paired stipules or a circular stipule scar if the stipules have fallen off.
c.the lateral veins at the base of the leaf are steep, that is they form a tighter angle with the midrib than the other lateral veins, a feature referred to as a "tri-veined".
Many other kinds of figs and berries are often mixed in groups and amost allare edibloe or used for medicinal value and eaten by birds, primates & bats  and few others.

Figs comprise a large genus, Ficus, of deciduous and evergreen tropical and subtropical trees, shrubs, and vines belonging to the mulberry family, Moraceae
Figs and Ficus plants are two terms for the same types of plants. 
 The term ficus is used to refer to fig trees. 
The distinction between figs and ficus trees is used for classification.

Ficus is the scientific name of a genus of plants, which contains all of the species of figs within it. 

The classification names help distinguish between individual species and larger groups of related plants and organisms. Studies indicate about such 800 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemi-epiphytes in the family Moraceae.

Collectively known as Figs, they of the tropical origin and few in the warm temperate zone. The so-called Common Fig (F. carica) is a temperate species from the Middle East and southern Europe, which has been widely cultivated from ancient times for its fruit, also referred to as figs. The fruit of most other species are also edible though they are usually of only local economic importance or eaten as bush food. However, they are extremely important food resources for wildlife.

Figs have religious and cultural importance in worship and for their many practical and medicinal uses. 
There is no clear evidence from older fossils of Ficus trees, but a  molecular clock study and carbon dating process estimates ( indicates) that Ficus is a very ancient genus; maybe even millions of years old. Readers choice to decide. 
However to me, it is without doubt an Ancient Tree genus and about 800 kinds are recorded  over the world with so many legends and folk lore even attached.

Tree Fossils in Mohenjadaro excavations also confirm the Ficus is an old genus- possibly from a previous era. But hard to place.Obviously Ficus genus trees grew before Continents came apart -----thus:
Something to think about in the midst of all strife and turmoil & respect Trees.




  1. Date of Ficus Trees -
    from Wikepedia-
    The molecular clock (based on the molecular clock hypothesis (MCH)) is a technique in molecular evolution that uses fossil constraints and rates of molecular change to deduce the time in geologic history when two species or other taxa diverged. It is used to estimate the time of occurrence of events called speciation or radiation. The molecular data used for such calculations is usually nucleotide sequences for DNA or amino acid sequences for proteins. It is sometimes called a gene clock or evolutionary clock.

  2. Carbon Dating
    from Wikepedia

    Radiocarbon dating (sometimes simply known as carbon dating) is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 (14C) to estimate the age of carbonaceous materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years.[1] Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" (BP), "Present" being defined as 1950 CE. Such raw ages can be calibrated to give calendar dates. One of the most frequent uses of radiocarbon dating is to estimate the age of organic remains from archaeological sites. When plants fix atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) into organic material during photosynthesis they incorporate a quantity of 14C that approximately matches the level of this isotope in the atmosphere (a small difference occurs because of isotope fractionation, but this is corrected after laboratory analysis). After plants die or they are consumed by other organisms (for example, by humans or other animals) the 14C fraction of this organic material declines at a fixed exponential rate due to the radioactive decay of 14C. Comparing the remaining 14C fraction of a sample to that expected from atmospheric 14C allows the age of the sample to be estimated.

    The technique of radiocarbon dating was developed by Willard Libby and his colleagues at the University of Chicago in 1949.