WHEN A FIG IS NOT A FIG

Mention the word ‘fig’ and this image springs to mind:

Our neighbours have such a fig tree in their garden that sometimes bends with the weight of delicious edible fruit. A succession of families living there over the years have ignored their plump ripeness, leaving them for the Speckled Mousebirds, Cape White-eyes, Redwinged Starlings and Blackeyed Bulbuls to devour!

The enormous Natal fig tree in our garden produces an abundance of tiny fruits that are inedible for humans, yet are a magnet for an enormous variety of birds. This African Green Pigeon among them:

So, when is a fig not a fig? When it belongs to the ice plant or Mesembryanthemacae family. There is such a variety of these plants indigenous to South Africa that they probably deserve a fat guide book all to themselves. Whatever their actual scientific designation, they are commonly known here as mesembs or vygies (little figs). Let me show you why:

Once these beautifully silky flowers have fruited, the fruiting capsules bear a strong resemblance to a little fig (vygie):

24 thoughts on “WHEN A FIG IS NOT A FIG

  1. Well done for capturing the pigeon! It certainly blends in well. I’ve grown what are called mesembryanthemums here in the UK. I don’t know if it’s the same plant, though. The flower of yours looks similar, but I’ve not seen yellow ones for sale in UK garden centres. They do have similar succulent- type leaves. They are grown as annuals here as they can’t survive the winter.

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    • There is a host of different succulents that fall under the general banner of mesembryanthemums. These ones were growing wild in the Addo Elephant National Park. I have pink, purple and white ones that more or less grow wild in my garden They wouldn’t do well in your cold winters for they do best in the sun.

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  2. Pingback: WHEN A FIG IS NOT A FIG — Something Over Tea – ° BLOG ° Gabriele Romano

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