QUESTION: Can a fig tree be poisonous? I thought figs are food, so how could that be? Doesn’t make sense to me. – Jeanne F
ANSWER: Yes, it can be poisonous in certain situations. If you have pets or small children around a fig tree be careful.
Fig trees produce a white sap. This sap contains organic compounds known as psoralen and bergapten. When these compounds react with the sun, or are ingested by children or pets, they can prove harmful.
If ingested, it’s common for children and pets to develop gastric issues. It can also make pets begin to foam at the mouth.
For adults and children alike, if you touch the sap and it’s activated by the sun it can lead to a skin irritation known as phytophotodermatitis.
This is a reaction on the skin which can lead to redness, itching, and burning. It can also cause blisters to form on the skin and even leave scars for many years.
The good news is that none of these issues are typically found in the figs themselves. Though you should check with your veterinarian before feeding figs to your pets to ensure it’s safe.
However, the compounds which cause both the skin and gastric issues are commonly found in the sap of the foliage or shoots of the trees.
Therefore, be mindful when touching a fig tree. Wear gloves and long-sleeved shirts or pants to cover exposed skin.
Also, be sure you wash your hands after handling a fig tree. Use cold water to avoid opening the pores of your skin. You should also never allow children or pets to chew on or ingest this plant.
Fig trees are great producers and grow quickly as well. However, you must use caution when working around these trees to avoid accidentally harming yourself, your pets, or your children.