Skip to Content


« Back to Glossary Index

– Etymology:
– Term “syconium” originates from Ancient Greek word συκον (sykon), meaning fig.

– Morphology:
Syconium is an urn-shaped receptacle with 50 to 7000 simplified uniovulate flowers.
– It is closed off by the ostiole, fringed by scale-like bracts.
– Syconia can be monoecious or functionally dioecious.
– Once pollinated by a fig wasp, florets develop into achenes or drupes.
– Fig is an enclosure with numerous fruits within it.

– Development:
Syconium formation starts with growth of bracts curving to form a receptacle.
– Outer bracts meet to create the ostiole by interlock.
– Syconia may develop lateral, basal, or peduncular bracts.
– Shape of ostiole is related to morphology of pollinating wasp.

– Tight ostiolar enclosure at syconium apex is pollinator-specific.
– Ostiole slightly loosens when receptive to pollen.
– Specialized wasps enter and pollinate female flowers while laying eggs.
– Larvae develop in galls, and seeds develop in pollinated flowers.
– Chemical changes in the fig occur as the fig develops into fruit.

– Evolution:
Syconium is believed to have evolved 83 million years ago in the Cretaceous.
– Evolution occurred within an entomophilic clade within Moraceae.
– Bracts tightened to form the ostiole, increasing pollinator specificity.
– Coevolution between figs and their pollinating wasps (agaonids) ensued.

Syconium (Wikipedia)

Syconium (pl.: syconia) is the type of fruit borne by figs (genus Ficus), formed by an enlarged, fleshy, hollow receptacle with multiple ovaries on the inside surface. In essence, it is really a fleshy stem with a number of flowers, so it is considered both a multiple and accessory fruit.

Cross-section of the syconium of a female creeping fig. The receptacle forms a hollow chamber, its inner wall (white) covered by a shell of rufous florets. Their long and curled, white styles occupy the centre. Each floret will produce a fruit and seed. The green, bract-lined ostiole, below, admits wasp pollinators.
« Back to Glossary Index