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Common fig

Leaves and fruit of common fig, cultivar 'Chicago Hardy'.

Common fig is a medium to large shrub or small compact tree reaching 10 to 12 feet high. Will die back to the ground in northern climates if not winter protected. Large course leaves and edible fruit add summer interest. Can be grown in containers.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name:

Ficus carica

All common names:

Common fig

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Container,
  • Patio/sidewalk,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Compact tree (10-15 feet),
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Alkaline soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Broad,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

More Information:

Size & Form

A large to medium shrub to small tree reaching 10 to 20 feet high

Tree & Plant Care

Best in full sun to light shade in a well-drained protected site.
Water regularly for good root growth.
Plants can dieback to ground in northern climates. Add extra winter protection.
Can be grown in containers and brought indoors to a basement or garage for winter.

Disease, pests, and problems

None serious

Native geographic location and habitat

Western China and Medirranean region

Bark color and texture 

Smooth, gray trunks on older plants

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, large, up to 8 inch long, palmate leaves with 3 to 5 lobes.
Dark green with pale green underneath. 

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small, non-showy greenish flowers form within a hollow receptacle near the branch tips.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

The showy, edible fruit (fig) develops within each flower receptacle in late summer or fall on the new wood.

Cultivars and their differences 

Brown Turkey Fig (Ficus carica 'Brown Turkey'): A hardier, adaptable fig for northern climates; sweet, edible purple brown fruit

Chicago Hardy (Ficus carica 'Chicago Hardy'): A good cultivar for colder climates; rounded habit, reaches 15 to 20 feet in protected site. Hardy to zone 5; purple plum fruits (pomes)

Location of Ficus carica (Common fig) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.