Did you know that figs are not a fruit? They are a flower and also have dead insects inside

Did you know that figs are not a fruit? They are a flower and also have dead insects inside

Figs develop in a very particular way. The first data is that technically they are not a fruit, but an infrutescence (a set of fruits). And the second is that they need an insect to reproduce that ends up dying inside it.

Simply explained, figs are a kind of inverted flowers that bloom inside that large dark pod with reddish tones that we know as the fig fruit.

Each of these flowers produces a single hard-shelled fruit and a single seed called "achene." Therefore, the fig is made up of multiple achenes, which are what give it that characteristic crunchy texture.

But the most striking thing, and for some disgusting, is that for the fruit to form, a special pollination process that depends on an insect: the wasp needs to occur.

These insects carry their genetic material and allow their reproduction. For their part, wasps could not live without figs, because they deposit their larvae inside the fruit. This relationship is known as symbiosis or mutualism.

Here's how the process works:

The female wasp gets into the male fig, calm it is not eaten, to lay eggs. The male fig has a special shape to house the wasp's eggs inside. The incredible thing is that while it is being introduced to the fig, the wasp generally loses its wings and antennae so it has no way to get out and will die in this fruitful coffin.

So then it is up to the young to continue the cycle. Male wasp hatchlings are born without wings as their sole function is to breed with female wasp hatchlings, technically with their sisters, and tunnel out of the fig. Finally the female offspring leave the fig, taking the pollen with them to continue this cycle in a new fig tree.

If a wasp accidentally enters a female fig, such as the ones we eat, instead of a male fig, it does not have room to reproduce inside it and since it cannot get out, it will die inside. A tragic but necessary consequence, because in this way pollen is transported.

But before you decide to stop eating figs, you should know that the bodies of the wasps decompose inside the fig thanks to the work of an enzyme in the fruit called ficin that transforms the insect into protein.

Currently most varieties of figs for human consumption are parthenogenetic. This means that they always bear fruit in the absence of a pollinator.

Video: 3 Ways You Can Prepare Figs (October 2020).