How & Why

Is a Sycamore Tree a Fig Tree?

“A sycamore tree is a fig tree,” says the dictionary. This is a sentence that has been repeated so many times in American schools for so long that it seems like the truth, but is it really?

In this article, we will explore what a sycamore tree actually is and whether or not it’s a fig tree. By doing this, we’ll learn something new and get to patent our own idea.

What Is a Fig?

Before we can answer the question, “Is a sycamore tree a fig tree?” we first have to figure out what a fig is. According to Merriam-Webster, a “fig” is “a small, sweet edible fruit with tough skin and usually containing one or more seeds.” It’s also an interjection that means something like “so” or “okay.”

The word fig comes from the Latin ficus (“sycamore”). The word sycamore comes from the Greek συκαμέος (sykámēlos), which is a combination of σύκος (súkos) and μῆλον (mêlon).

what is a sycamore fig tree?

So now we know that the word fig was coined from sycamore, which means that a sycamore fig is not a fig. How do we know that a sycamore fig is not a fig? Let’s first look at an example of one:


The scientific name for the Sycamore Fig Tree is Ficus sycomorus. It can also be called the “Fig-Mulberry.” It’s a tree that produces fruit that look like small figs and has leaves that look like mulberries. It was once thought to be extinct, but it grows in Egypt and Yemen.

The fruit is edible. In fact, people eat the seeds and the fleshy part underneath the seeds. The tree is used to make sycamore fig jam, syrup, and wine; and to make animal feed out of the leaves and pith.

Fig (dried)

Of course, you don’t have to live in Egypt or Yemen to enjoy a sycamore fig tree. You can grow one at home.

To prove that the definition of the sycamore tree is not a fig tree, we can go back to look at another dictionary reference. Here is what Merriam-Webster says about sycamore figs:

“The sycamore fig is a cultivar of the fig tree (Ficus sycomorus). It is said to have originated in India, but it is widely cultivated in the Mediterranean region” (M-W, 2005).

Here’s an example that will show that the definition they use for “sycamore fig” doesn’t match the definition we just looked at.