An Ancient Technique for Ripening Sycomore Fruit in East.Mediterranean Countries J. GALIL 1 Introduction Sycomore trees (Ficus sycomor~s L.) are widespread in the Near East, in Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus. They grow chiefly in plains and along rivers, where the soil renmins humid even during the hot and dry s']mmer. They are tall trees with a broad crown and spreading branches, standing out conspicuously from other plants. Sycomores originate fro.m the savannas of eastern Central Africa and from Yemen, where they grow spontaneously and repro- duce by seeds. The flowers are pollinated regularly by the small chalcidoid wasp Cera- tosolen arab@us Mayr. It is not known how the sycomore was introduced into the Near East. Perhaps seeds or branches were swept with the Nile flood, or man may have brought it along from the south (20). In any case, remains of the syeomore tree (wood, roots and fruit), discovered in Egypt, date as far back as the predynastic period; i.e., more than 3000 years B. C. (17).
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