The fig is technically the infructescense of the fig tree (Ficus carica), a deciduous tree native to the Middle East. The fig was domesticated very early on, with fossilized remains of figs being dated to earlier than 9,000 BCE. It is now grown throughout the Mediterranean basin, where it withstands drought due to its aggressive root system.
Most of the world's production of figs are dried, through fresh figs are seasonally available. The most common cultivars of the fig are the Mission, the Kadota, and the Brown Turkey, which are primarily grown in and around the Mediterranean,with Turkey being the top producer.
Fig trees, when cut, produce a milky liquid known as latex, which can be a skin irritant. Fresh figs are sometimes draped with cured meats and served with cheeses as an antipasto. They have a sweet, slightly musky aroma and a fresh, green flavor which balances the sweetness. Dried figs are often turned into jam, and are often used as part of a cheese course, or for dessert, especially in the Middle East.