Content Detail

Common fig is a medium to large shrub or small compact tree reaching 10 to 12 feet high that 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.

  • Family (English) Mulberry
  • Family (botanic) Moraceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Broad, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size & Form:

Common fig is a medium to large shrub or small tree reaching 10 to 20 feet high.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to western China and the Mediterranean region.

Bark color and texture:

Trunks are smooth and gray on older plants.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Alternate, large, palmate leaves with three to five lobes that are up to 8 inches long. They are dark green in color with a pale green undersides.

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 new wood.

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 and need extra winter protection. Can be grown in containers and brought indoors to a basement or garage for winter.

Brown Turkey common fig (Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’):

A hardier, adaptable fig for northern climates with sweet, edible purple-brown fruit.

Chicago Hardy common fig (Ficus carica ‘Chicago Hardy’):

A good cultivar for colder climates with a rounded habit and purple plum fruits (pomes). It reaches 15 to 20 feet when grown in a protected site. Hardy to zone 5.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift