#17 - FIG TREE (Ficus spp.)
A native of western Asia, figs have been cultivated for over 5,000 years in the Mediterranean. The fig tree has long been an important, highly valued, vital food crop and its cultivation spread rapidly with civilization. The early Greeks so highly prized figs that in the Olympics, winning athletes were crowned with fig wreaths. Now grown throughout the world, the fig tree was first introduced to Florida in the early 1500s by Spanish explorers. As far back as 1520, colonists in Cuba were only allowed one fig tree per household so as to prevent competition with growers back in Spain (Validez 1526). As a ficus, the fig tree is cousin to our native strangler figs, including the giant strangler fig you will find standing next to Mound House. Out in the backyard, our edible fig tree is among the numerous fruit trees which are part of the historic gardens at Mound House. This garden includes the many of the fruits and vegetables which could be found in a 1920s era garden on the Beach, and like the old days, are frequently stolen by visitors and neighbors alike.