The first thing I learned -- though I had heard a whispering of a rumor before -- is that figs come from ficus trees. What I'm also learning is that there are five billion kinds of the same type of tree. Botany 101, y'all!
This is the tree outside my apartment building. It is a ficus, a Ficus microcarpa, or an Indian Laurel Fig Tree. These trees line my street and a few others, but what I'm finding out is that the ficus on other streets are not necessarily this Indian Laurel. I'll explore those later. The Indian Laurel is listed as "medium height". Their fruit is green and I can't imagine that it's edible. The bark is smooth white or grey.
These trees are native to India, parts of China and Malaysia. What upsets me is that I can't find out why these were planted here over 50 years ago. I'm still digging for that. The books on local trees are dusty and outdated.
Here's Mina on the gnarled roots
The ficus trees in general are a hot topic in Santa Monica right now. The city has planned to remove a third of the mature and gorgeous ficus that shade downtown SM. The company that manages most of downtown believes the thick canopy detracts business; that the shade is shopping prohibive. It's a ludicrous theory. The shading and the trees are what make downtown so inviting. There's also the fact that many people trip and fall on the ficus roots. And nobody likes a law suit. Hey, watch where you're going! The management company came up with stories that the trees were sick and diseased, and a danger. Months later they retracted the "disease" thing. Nice going on the paranoia angle. Trees were supposed to be cut last October, but thanks to the effort of some grassroots protestors and the many of us natives that have written letters, the cutting has been halted, for now. There are no plans to abort the cutting mission yet though. I think a few have vowed to chain themselves to the trees when it's time. God bless 'em.
Here are the Indian Laurels parading down my block; keeping us happy and beautifying the place.