The pictured plant is the common fig, Ficus carica. This species is a member of the mulberry family. The common fig is a native of the Middle East and Asia, but it grows very well in Mediterranean climates. The fig is valued for its fruit, which is actually a “false fruit,” and for its use as an ornamental plant. I found this common fig growing out of a wall in Venice.
I found it incredible that a tree could grow in the side of a wall overlooking a canal of salt water. These conditions are extremely inhospitable, but the fig tree seems to be able to survive them. The fig’s survival is most likely due to its hardy, deep roots. The roots of the fig seek out water, allowing the fig to grow in dry, rocky soil and survive droughts. The wall is similar to this rocky soil, so it poses little challenge to the fig’s prying roots. Since the fig cannot use the salt water of Venice’s canals for hydration, its ability to withstand drought is vital (unless it always rains as hard as it did when we were there). Regardless, this wall-clinging specimen shows that the fig is a truly tenacious and remarkable species.