n African Entomology - A survey of the arthropod pests and plant parasitic nematodes associated with commercial figs, (Moraceae), in South Africa : short communications

Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1021-3589



Edible figs originate from Arabia Felix, present-day Yemen (Eisen 1901) and have been cultivated in the Lower Jordan valley since 11 400-11 200 B.C. (Kislev . 2006). Genetic distinction of fig cultivars in Italian isles and natural populations occurring in the Mediterranean basin (Khadari . 2005), indicate introduction from the east Arabian Peninsula (Kislev . 2006). Eisen (1901) suggested that this introduction to Europe occurred around 800 B.C. by the Phoenicians and Greeks. Under Roman rule they spread to the rest of Europe, but only slowly towards the east, with the first documented edible figs appearing in China by A.D. 1550. At first the fig was considered a luxury for the rich, but it soon became a traded commodity, forming an integral part of the human diet. The ideal climate of Portugal for fig production secured the development of a superior industry there. With the explorations of the Spanish and Portuguese, figs were subsequently established in almost all countries they visited. Today figs are grown all over the world, but they especially favour a warm-temperate Mediterranean-type climate. Figs require sufficient moisture during the active growth period, but a warm dry climate when fruit are ripening (P. Botma, pers. comm.). The winter rainfall areas of South Africa, such as the Swartland and Klein Karoo in the Western Cape are therefore ideal for fig cultivation whereas fruit quality is negatively affected by higher fungal contamination in summer rainfall areas (M. Wohlfarter, pers. obs.).

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