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Tree of Life a Fig?

Tree of Life a Fig?

"You can’t really taste the fig’s spiritual aura in a Fig Newton, but it shines in the mythologies of world religions."

Is the Fig Tree the tree of life?

Several scientists think so

Tropical figs are a keystone species. Meaning: removing them from tropical forests can trigger whole ecosystem collapse.

Check out the New Yorker's beautiful feature, Love the Fig. Here's a preview: 

Nigel Tucker, a restoration ecologist in Australia, has recommended that ten per cent of new plants in tropical-reforestation projects be fig seedlings. 

Rhett Harrison, a former fig biologist, says the ratio could be even higher. “My inclination is that we should be going to some of these places and just planting figs."

You can’t really taste the fig’s spiritual aura in a Fig Newton, but it shines in the mythologies of world religions. Buddha found enlightenment under a fig tree and the Egyptian pharaohs built wooden sarcophagi from Ficus sycomorus. 

As the biologist Daniel Janzen put it in “How to Be a Fig,” an article from 1979, “Who eats figs? Everybody.” With good reason. Figs are high in calcium, easy to chew and digest, and, unlike plants that fruit seasonally, can be found year-round. 

Mike Shanahan—a rain-forest ecologist and author of the book about figs, “Gods, Wasps, and Stranglers”—spent time studying Malaysian fig trees as a Ph.D. candidate, in 1997. He would sometimes lie beneath a huge strangler fig and record its visitors, returning repeatedly for several days. “I would typically see twenty-five to thirty different species (of visitors),” Shanahan said. “The animals would include lots of different squirrel species and some curious creatures called tree shrews. There would be some monkeys and a whole range of different bird species, from tiny little flowerpeckers up to the hornbills, the biggest fruit-eating birds in Asia.” There were also pigeons, fruit doves, fairy bluebirds, barbets, and parrots.

  Ficus sycomorus  with Green Pigeon. 

Ficus sycomorus with Green Pigeon. 

Children's Curricula: Trees & Birds (Rev. Laurel Dykstra)

Children's Curricula: Trees & Birds (Rev. Laurel Dykstra)

My Favorite Trees (Chris Searles)

My Favorite Trees (Chris Searles)