114. Ficus.—Fig, N.F.

Botanical name: 

Fig. 64. Ficus carica. The partially dried fruit of Fi'cus car'ica Linné (Fam. Moraceae, U.S.P. 1900).

BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS.—A small tree with palmately lobed, cordate leaves. Flowers monoecious, inclosed within a pear-shaped receptacle which converges so as to leave only a small orifice at the apex; style single; stigmas 2.

HABITAT.—Levant; cultivated extensively in the Mediterranean Basin and subtropical regions.

COLLECTION.—Figs are either left on the tree to dry or are dried after being gathered by artificial heat or the heat of the sun, and in this condition are called "natural figs," or they are rendered pliant by pulling and kneading. They are then packed in boxes or drums and known as "pulled figs." The largest and best are those of Smyrna and Turkey, the best Smyrna being known as "Eleme figs." The largest amount is imported from Asiatic Turkey, and the remainder from Spain, Portugal, and other countries.

DESCRIPTION OF DRUG.—Figs come into market compressed, and covered with an efflorescence of sugar which melts in warm weather and makes them soft and moist. They are yellowish or brownish, somewhat translucent, and consist mostly of a sweet, viscid pulp, in the center of which are numerous small, yellow ovaries, or akenes, popularly regarded as seeds; odor peculiar; taste sweet, mucilaginous. When soaked in water they may be opened out to their original pear-shaped form, showing the short stalk, or its scar, at the base or pointed end, and scales at the large end surrounding an orifice near which the staminate flowers were situated; the numerous akenes, or ovaries, of the pistillate flowers cover the walls of the hollow interior.

CONSTITUENTS.—Grape sugar (60 to 70 per cent.), gum, fat, and salts.

ACTION AND USES.—Nutrient, laxative, and demulcent. Their principal use medicinally is as a laxative diet in constipation, freely given, which action in dried figs is mainly due to the indigestibility of the seeds and tough skin. Dose: 4 dr. (15 Gm.).

Confectio Sennae (12 per cent.), Dose: 1 to 3 dr. (4 to 12 Gm.).

A Manual of Organic Materia Medica and Pharmacognosy, 1917, was written by Lucius E. Sayre, B.S. Ph. M.