All About Fig and What It Smells Like
Fig trees are part of the flowering plant family Moraceae. The leaves, bark and fruit of the Ficus carica tree each have distinctive and complementary scents that have inspired several fragrance notes. Find out more about figs, the scents associated with Ficus carica plants and how fragrances capture the unique characteristics of these trees.
What Is a Fig?
Ficus carica is a fruit-producing tree native to Mediterranean climates. These trees have smooth white bark and large leaves. Figs grow inside a hollow syconium that is internally lined with flowers.
These teardrop-shaped fruits have green skin that ripens to purple or brown, reddish flesh and many seeds. Figs are technically an infructescence, or a type of multiple fruit. Some species are pollinated by wasps that enter the inflorescence, but Ficus carica plants do not always require pollination by insects or other trees.
Figs were among the first fruits cultivated by humans. Subfossils from an early Neolithic village dating back to 9400–9200 B.C. may be the first known instance of agriculture. Ficus carica trees are also referenced in mythology and religious texts. In the biblical book of Genesis, Adam and Eve wear fig leaves after eating forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.
What Do Figs Smell Like?
Each part of the Ficus carica plant has inspired distinct fragrance notes. The bark is a white wood with creamy, powdery and musky overtones. The scent of the leaves combines fresh green and lactonic, or milky, characteristics. Scents inspired by Ficus carica trees often capture crisp verdancy with a slight hint of bitterness. The ripe fruits of these trees are honeyed and have floral undertones.
Some perfumers combine the different aspects of the Ficus carica plant into soliflore (or more accurately, solifruit) fragrances. For instance, the scent of the LOVER in Jerusalem candle features a green fig top note and the wood of the tree in the base notes.
Many fragrance blends that feature these notes also have aquatic or marine accords that evoke the native Mediterranean environment of Ficus carica trees. A salty minerality can accentuate the green leaves, lactonic sap, woodsy bark and sweet fruits of these plants.
Are Fig Scents Natural or Synthetic?
The International Fragrance Association prohibits the use of fig leaf absolute in fragrances. Direct contact with the milky sap of Ficus carica plants irritates human skin when followed by exposure to sunlight. Dermal sensitization and phototoxicity can also be caused by concentrates that are derived from these plants.
Aroma molecules are used to create scents based on Ficus carica trees and fruits. Synthetic scents can emulate the lactonic green profile of the leaves and sap as well as the woody bark of these trees. Scent molecules with amber notes suggest the succulent sweetness of ripe figs.
Natural and synthetic ingredients can also round out accords with one or more notes inspired by Ficus carica. Common choices include herbaceous aromatics, floral citrus and creamy notes that evoke coconut, milk, sandalwood, tonka bean or vanilla.
When Did Fig Scents Become Popular?
The first solifruit fragrance with notes inspired by Ficus carica was Premier Figuier by L’Artisan Parfumeur. Olivia Giacobetti developed this fragrance, which launched in 1994. This unisex scent features spicy green top notes and sweet milky heart notes over a creamy citrus base.
Over the last 30 years, the leading perfumes and home fragrances inspired by Ficus carica trees have primarily showcased the green leaves, lactonic sap and white woody bark. Bitter tones and dusty or powdery properties add complexity to scents that are based on these plants.
The sweetness of ripe figs is less common in perfumes and home fragrances. Many people assume that fragrances inspired by figs are fruit-forward and gourmand, but Ficus carica trees have inspired more green, lactonic and woodsy scents.
What Are Some of the Best Scent Accords With Fig?
Fragrances that draw on the unique scent profile of Ficus carica trees are often paired with notes that bring out the most desirable characteristics of the leaves, sap or bark. The leaves are vegetal and may have a bitter edge, the sap is milky and resinous and the bark is creamy and woody.
Green notes inspired by Ficus carica leaves can be combined with other grassy or woodsy scents. The lactonic properties of the sap can accentuate fragrance notes inspired by the leaves, bark or fruits. Coconut, sandalwood and other creamy accords can round out any green, milky or woody notes.
The top notes of the LOVER in Jerusalem candle pair the green accord of Ficus carica leaves with sandalwood, while the scent of the bark mingles with spicy patchouli at the base. Middle notes of herbaceous galbanum and citrusy petitgrain contribute enticing complexity to this fragrance.
Which Fragrance Notes Are Similar To Figs?
Ficus carica leaves have a fresh scent but are also powdery and milky. Aroma molecules that have earthy or grassy notes can evoke the scent of these leaves without the need to use leaf absolute.
The scent of Ficus carica sap is suggested by lactonic notes such as coconut or almond milk. An intriguing bitter tone can be picked up in either the green or milky aspects of scents inspired by Ficus carica. Sandalwood evokes the Mediterranean origins of these trees and can represent the white bark in the top, middle or base notes of a fragrance.
Resinous amber, syrupy fruit and sweet floral notes invoke the fruits of these trees. Gourmand fragrances inspired by figs are less common than the unexpected and uniquely appealing powdery green and woody notes suggested by the other parts of the Ficus carica plant.
How Can I Savor the Scent of Fig?
Scented candles are the best way to indulge in the scent of figs. Luxury hotels around the world use fragrances inspired by Ficus carica trees. Because these plants and fruits are less common fragrance notes, a candle with notes of fig leaves and wood imparts an indescribably alluring aroma to any space.