An overview on Ficus pollination

D. Eisikowitch, M. Ghara
The genus Ficus comprises over 750 species that are predominantly found in the tropics and sub-tropics. All Ficus species are characterized by an enclosed spherical inflorescence (syconium) with a minute opening (ostiole). Each syconium also called fig contains along the inner side hundreds of unisexual flower. Figs are pollinated by wasps that belong to Hymenoptera, family Agaonidae. Pollination is unique because the wasp has to enter into the fig through the ostiole to access the flowers and often dies inside the fig after carrying out pollination as well as oviposition. Seed development can occur only if this specialized wasp exists and offspring of pollinator wasp cannot develop without the fig. Figs are monoecious or gynodioecious based on seed and wasp production within the fig. In monoecious species, seeds and wasps develop within the same fig, in gynodioecious species separate figs produce seeds and pollinator wasps. In order to pollinate, the fig wasp locates the fig using specific volatiles emitted by the fig and pollinates the fig either in an active or a passive manner. Edible figs have been cultivated since prehistoric times. Many parthenocarpic varieties have evolved during the long history of interaction of fig with man. The edible figs produce seeds without the involvement of pollinator wasp and its propagation is completely dependent on stem cutting. New cultivars and hybrids of edible figs have also been created by artificial pollination with different pollen donors. This overview will present information on pollination in Ficus and edible fig culture.
Eisikowitch, D. and Ghara, M. (2017). An overview on Ficus pollination. Acta Hortic. 1173, 143-148
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1173.24
active pollination, passive pollination, common fig, seed, gall, pollen pocket

Acta Horticulturae