The Q&A Archives: Stopping Fig Production

Question: We have an ornamental fig tree in our yard that we have been unable to identify by looking through books and on the internet. The tree produces dry, hard, inedible "fruit" that contains a white, sap-like substance. These figs grow from the base of the tree, from various locations on the trunk, and from the limbs. It is a fast growing tree and produces figs year round. We want to know if there is anything we can spray on the tree to stop production of these figs. We love the tree for its shade, but the figs create a giant mess. Any ideas?

Answer: Ficus (fig) trees are grown for edible fruit or rubber production in many tropical climates. Based upon your description of fruit location on the trunk, it sounds as though your ornamental fig is Ficus racemosa. These plants are commonly grown in the mild-winter areas of southern California. Figs are unusual fruits in that they form and grow from flowers that are opposite in appearance to most fruit-bearing trees. They're inside-out! Because of this it's difficult to keep fruit from forming. Sometimes a growth inhibiting hormone can be sprayed on the open blossoms of fruit trees to keep fruit from forming. But, with your fig tree, there's no practical way to apply growth inhibiting hormones.

It may be than you'll either have to put up with the messy fruits, or you'll have to remove the fruit as it forms, but before it matures enough to ooze sticky sap.

Wish there were more to suggest!

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