Ficus sycomorus L.

Sycamore fig

Common names
English (Sycamore fig, Mulberry Fig, Bush Fig); Arabic (Subula); Amharic (Shola, Bamba)
The fruit and leaves are edible.
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Tree info

Dimensions in meters The tree grows up to 21 m tall and has a considerable leaf spread.
Maturity of tree before yields 6 years
Productivity lifetime 50-100 years
Seasonality In its native range, this tree bears several crops of fruit a year. For example, in southern Africa, flowering and fruiting will occur throughout the year, peaking from July—December.
Production zones and cultivation methods Ficus sycomorus L. grows near streams, rivers, swamps and waterholes. It is a common savannah tree with dry, hairy fruits that hang in groups. The leaves grow in a spiral shape around the twig. It is preferable to cultivate the tree from cuttings or truncheons.


Per 100 g edible portion (EP)

Sycamore figs are an excellent source of iron. A 100 g edible portion (EP) contains over 2x more iron than the same serving of kale (also known as Tuscan black cabbage).
Energy (kcal) 369 kcal
% Daily Value (DV) *
Macronutrients Proteins: 1.1 g 2 %
Fats: 0.7 g  1 %
Carbohydrates: 9.5 g  3 %
Key Minerals Iron: 3.3 mg  18 %
Calcium: 100 mg   8 %
Magnesium: 35 mg   8 %
Potassium: 347 mg   7 %
Key Vitamins Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) : 10 mg 11%
Retinol activity equivalents  (Vitamin A): 16 mg       1.8 %
Niacin (Vitamin B3) : 0.9 mg     6 %
*All Daily Recommended Values are calculated using the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s recommendation guide.


Found across Africa including in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Israel, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


The fruit is eaten raw, cooked or dried. In India it is used in curries, while in Italy, dried figs are popular. They can also be used in jams and chutneys. The fruit is often fermented to make alcoholic beverages. In addition to the fruit, the sycamore leaves are edible and can be cooked in soups and groundnut dishes.

An ancient tree species, F. sycomorus L. has been cultivated in Egypt since the third millennium BCE as well as ancient Mesopotamia and Palestine. In many countries, the Sycamore is also regarded as sacred. It is often mentioned in the Bible to illustrate a teaching or parable. In Egyptian mythology, the sycamore tree grew outside the gates of Heaven.

The hardy tree can provide year-round animal fodder for farmers. In agroforestry systems, it is often intercropped with bananas. The bananas make up an understory, meaning that they grow well in shaded conditions, while the fig trees grow overhead. In this way, two different nutritious foods can be grown efficiently on the same plot of land.

Several medicinal properties have also been ascribed to this species. The fruit is sometimes used in traditional medicine to treat gastro-intestinal conditions such as constipation and diarrhoea. The tree’s bark is used to treat coughs, throat and chest diseases.

Scientific references


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