The photos given below were taken during my last trip to Olavipe. We call the tree athimaram and the fruit athipazham. I am told that in English it is known as Elephant Ear Fig tree or Giant Indian Fig and the botanical name is Ficus auriculata Lour. It grows wild, to about 10m or so height.
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Fig is an ancient fruit tree. Its cultivation is believed to have started two or three millenniums back. There are nearly 800 types of Ficus genus. This in the photo is one. They belong to the mulberry family. Fig is Brahma’s Holy Tree and is also mentioned in the Bible and the Koran. The banyan tree also belongs to this group and therefore is significant to the Buddhists as well. Adam and Eve, it is said, covered their nakedness with fig leaves when they were banished from Eden.
I think the most important fig is Ficus carica Linn [Moraceae]. Its nutritive index is 11 against 9 of apple. It is supposed to contain vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, sodium, potassium chlorine, Omega 3, Omega 6, calcium, Pectin and so on.
Some of the problems where Ficus carica is said to be helpful include, sexual weakness, smooth labour, lowering cholesterol, preventing coronary heart disease, protect against cancer, effectively control of diabetes, management of hypertension, resisting vision loss in elderly people, and strengthening of bones.
The fruits are seasonal. But dried fruits are available in shops throughout the year. In fact, 80% of the production is consumed in dry form. In certain cases figs are used as replacement for sugar. They also have an important presence in the confectionery industry.
Fig is truly a wonderful fruit.