Mysore Fig
(Ficus Mysorensis)
Florida State Champion
 


Ficus Mysorensis

Ficus Mysorensis is the scientific name for the Mysore Fig tree. This species is a native tree of Mysore, India. Mysore was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore until 1947 at which time the Kingdom of Mysore was changed to the State of Mysore. The State of Mysore was changed to Karnataka with the passing of the States Reorganization Act in 1956 but was not renamed until 1973. Mysore is now the second largest city of Karnataka in southern India. Learn more about the history of Mysore here.

Trees follow the same pattern as humans as they have a Family Tree. The Mysore Fig being a Ficus comes from the family of Moraceae (Mulberry). What this means is that Mysore figs are related to mulberries. This would explain why it is possible for the fruit to be editable and good to make jelly with. The figs of this tree are not what most people think of when they think of figs. These start out green then change to yellow, orange, red, purple and finally black. They are mature and ready to eat and make jelly with when they turn purple or black as long as they are soft. They measure about 1.5" to 2.5" long at this point. The tree will usually have figs visible all the time but will have a "major" crop twice a year. One crop will usually be May/June and the other November/December. Each of the crops will fall during a two to a three week period. If these figs are not constantly picked up they will create a bug problem and will give a rotten fruit smell to the area.

There is no bloom before the fruit is visible unlike most fruit trees. The fruit will be at the end of each limb usually in clusters of three or five. The inside of each fig is lined with both male and female blooms which in their native habitat are pollinated by tiny symbiotic wasps. These wasps fly in a small hole located at the bottom of each fig. The female wasps will lay their eggs inside the figs. Once the eggs hatch the baby wasps fly out the same hole the female wasps flew in through. Since this is not a tree native to the USA and since the wasps were never introduced we have no seeds and therefore no propagation of this tree in the USA. This does not mean that this is the only one in the USA just that they are not common. It has been noted that Palomar College in San Marcos, California has been able to propagate the Mysore Fig tree from cuttings.

The leaves that cover the large structure measure about 6" wide by 10" long. They each have a drip tip at the end. Once a year usually in February/March there is a two to three week period in which all the leaves will fall from the tree. This a busy clean up time as there are many leaves covering the tree. The tree will then have new leaves very quickly usually in less than a week. Being that the Mysore Fig tree is a fast growing tree, it is understandable why they get so large and can recover from damage quickly. See the Gallery for pictures of the damage sustained from hurricanes and cold weather. These pictures will show how quickly the tree will recover from such damage.

The roots are the main interest of the tree. This is understandable since 90% of the roots grow above ground. The depth of the roots underground is only 9"-12". It would be thought that a strong wind could blow it over but that is not the case. The wood of the tree is very dense and very heavy. This plus the size of the trunk gives it a very stable base that would be hard to dislodge and move.

While doing research several Mysore Fig trees were found in the United States. The San Diego Zoo has a couple of these trees that are used for different reasons. You'll find the San Diego Zoo's Mysore Fig trees at the top of Bear Canyon and Tiger River, and at the Wild Animal Park on the elevated walkway near Mombasa Lagoon in Nairobi Village. Palomar College has a few trees also. One of their trees is at the top of the hill in the Palomar College Arboretum and measures about 45' tall. Hawaii has one that measures about 75' tall, a circumference of 92", and a crown spread of 125'. This information gives it a total of 198 points. It is located on the grounds of Building 692, Grant Hall, at the Waianae & McCornack Rd intersection, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. There is also one in Ft. Myers, Florida at the Edison's Home. It was the Florida State Champion until 1999 when the one in Estero was measured and took its place at the top. When last measured in 1994 it was 105' tall but only had a circumference of 252" and a crown spread of 116'. This information gives it a total of 386 points. The tree located in Estero was measured in 1999. It measured 100' tall, a circumference of 384", and a crown spread of 104'. This information gives it a total of 510 points. The unofficial measurements made in 2008 gave it a height of 93', a circumference of 480", and a crown spread of 130'. This information gives it a total of 606 points. These points are figured using the National Register of Big Trees Measuring Guide.

The uses for this tree and its parts vary. People in India use the figs mainly in winemaking but have been known to make jelly from them also. It is said that latex can be made from the leaves when they are at a certain stage. The people of India are very religious and worship this tree. The older people will build benches around the tree so they can sit under the tree to worship it. The San Diego Zoo uses this species as browse for Zoo primates whenever it is available; its fruits are offered to hatchlings in their Avian Propagation Center. I have been told that the wood is excellent for woodworking because of it dense features. We in Estero have invented a process to bring out the natural flavor of the fruit through a juicing process. We then use the juice to make excellent jelly. This jelly is not like any you have had in the past as its flavor is very unusual. People have different ideas of what it tastes like. They range from strawberry to grape to honey but all find it a very smooth, sweet, clean tasting jelly. If you are in the area come by and give it a try. We offer free samples to anyone that would like to try it.