The Surprising Love Life of the Fig

This is a reblog from the NewYorker.com. Please follow the link to read the complete article. Who knew fig reproduction was so unusual? 

Bite a fig in half and you’ll discover a core of tiny blossoms.

All kinds of critters, not only humans, frequent fig trees, but the plants owe their existence to what may be evolution’s most intimate partnership between two species. Because a fig is actually a ball of flowers, it requires pollination, but because the flowers are sealed, not just any bug can crawl inside. That task belongs to a minuscule insect known as the fig wasp, whose life cycle is intertwined with the fig’s. Mother wasps lay their eggs in an unripe fig. After their offspring hatch and mature, the males mate and then chew a tunnel to the surface, dying when their task is complete. The females follow and take flight, riding the winds until they smell another fig tree. (One species of wasp, in Africa, travels ten times farther than any other known pollinator.)

When the insects discover the right specimen, they go inside and deposit the pollen from their birthplace. Then the females lay new eggs, and the cycle begins again. For the wasp mother, however, devotion to the fig plant soon turns tragic. A fig’s entranceway is booby-trapped to destroy her wings, so that she can never visit another plant. When you eat a dried fig, you’re probably chewing fig-wasp mummies, too.

The fig and the fig wasp are a superlative example of what biologists call codependent evolution. The plants and insects have been growing old together for more than sixty million years. Almost every species of fig plant—more than seven hundred and fifty in total—has its own species of wasp. But codependence hasn’t made them weak, like it can with humans. The figs and fig wasps’ pollination system is extremely efficient compared with that of other plants, some of which just trust the wind to blow their pollen where it needs to go. And the figs’ specialized flowers, far from isolating them in an evolutionary niche, have allowed them to …

Continue reading at the New Yorker

 

Goddess Rising

Northern Hemi dwellers, our Summer Solstice approaches and the land is bursting forth in abundant green. I borrowed today’s title from a lovely blog I follow called Bealtaine Cottage, a permaculture garden and writer’s haven in Ireland, not too far from Sligo in N. Roscommon.

I enjoy this blog for the deep reverence for living systems author Colette O’Neill infuses her writing and images with. The photo at right lures you into summer’s cauldron, the luminous pathway.

I’m been busy falling in love with my own garden again. After taking a few years off I was wooed back to the Community Garden and I’ve partnered with my creative friend Glee (yes, her real name!) Together we are enjoying the fits and starts of our tiny farmette.

Right now that means we eat a lot of leaves. Radishes, and leaves, leaves leaves! Spinach, kale, lettuces, chard, tat soi, arugula, garlic chives, basil, oregano, parsley, mint, cabbage and beet greens.

Salad greens, stir fry greens garlicky greens & rice, and Green Goddess salad dressing in a hundred variations. Check out the recipe, below.

Our little plot has recently gone through a green explosion. Early last week the beets I thinned were lush greens with slender deep red roots. By weeks end they had fat juicy red marbles when I pulled them.

Two pics below show you the garden in mid may and mid June, such a difference!

gardenJune
Farmer Glee in May, left. Farmer Patrise in June, left. Those are soon to be Stargazer Lilies in the foreground.

 Green Goddess Salad Dressing

also good on seafood, tacos, just about anything but ice cream!

BASIC RECIPE:

  1. fill a 1 cup mason jar with fresh green herbs. parsley + scallion is a good basic combo, but any herbs will work
  2. add 1/8 c olive oil
  3. 1/8 c rice vinegar (seasoned)
  4. salt, pepper
  5. attach blender blade and ring to jar, invert and blend until smooth.

VARIATION: LEMON SESAME

  1. fill a 1 cup mason jar with fresh parsley, chives or scallions, mint
  2. use tahini instead of olive oil
  3. use lemon juice instead of vinegar
  4. add sesame seeds for an accent (optional)
  5. salt, pepper
  6. blend

VARIATION: DIJON VINAIGRETTE

  1. fill a 1 cup mason jar with fresh green herbs. parsley, thyme, chervil, chives, basil, oregano, sage,
  2. add 1/8 c olive oil
  3. use balsamic vinegar
  4. add 1 T heaping Dijon mustard
  5. add 2 cloves fresh garlic
  6. salt, pepper, 1 tsp sugar or honey
  7. attach blender blade and ring to jar, invert and blend until smooth.

VARIATION: YOGURT DILL

  1. fill a 1 cup mason jar with parsley, dill, scallion or chives, mint
  2. add 1/8 c olive oil
  3. lemon juice
  4. 2 heaping T yogurt
  5. salt, pepper, 1 tsp sugar or honey
  6. attach blender blade and ring to jar, invert and blend until smooth.