Difference Between Figs and Dates

Figs and dates are fruits that are eaten either raw, cooked or dried, by people across the world. They are popular for their nutritional value and sweet taste, which makes them the perfect ingredients for healthy desserts. 


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Key Takeaways

  1. Figs are a sweet fruit with a soft, chewy texture grown on the Ficus tree; dates are also a sweet fruit with a dense, fibrous texture grown on the date palm tree.
  2. Figs are typically smaller and have a milder, honey-like flavor; dates are larger and have a distinct caramel-like taste.
  3. Figs are commonly eaten fresh or dried as a snack or ingredient in various dishes; dates are often eaten dried as a sweet snack or ingredient in baking.

Figs vs Dates

The difference between figs and dates is that they come from different varieties of flora. Figs grow on the flowering plants called Ficus Carica, which are native to Western Asia and the Mediterranean.

On the contrary, dates grow on the tree Phoenix Dactylifera, which is commonly known as the date palm tree. The origin of these fruit-bearing trees is unknown; however, they are believed to have come from the Fertile Crescent region that lies between Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Figs vs Dates

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonFigsDates
PlantFigs are edible fruits that grow on the flowering plant, Ficus Carica.Dates are edible fruits which grow on the tree, Phoenix Dactylifera, commonly known as the date palm tree.
OriginFigs were originated in Western Asia and the Mediterranean.The origin of dates is unknown, however, they are believed to have come from the Fertile Crescent region that lies between Mesopotamia and Egypt.
ColourThe color of figs depends on how mature the fruit is; the color of the skin ranges from green to purple while the flesh of the fruit is either red or white.Fresh, ripe dates tend to be bright red or yellow; when dried, the color ranges from golden-brown to black.
ShapeFigs commonly have a pear-like bulbous shape.Dates are commonly oval-cylindrical in shape.
TextureThe pulp of a ripened fruit is soft and jelly-like while the tiny seeds inside are crunchy; dried figs tend to be leathery yet moist.The texture of fresh dates is like that of an apple; when dried, the fruit becomes soft and sticky.
TasteFigs have a sweetness similar to honey and a subtle berry-like flavor.Dates have a sweet caramel-like taste due to high sugar content.
Suitable climate for productionFigs need a subtropical climate to grow but can even survive in mild winters.Dates are grown in semi-arid and arid regions which have long and hot summers.
ProducersThe leading producer of figs is Turkey, followed by Egypt, Algeria, and Iran.Egypt produces 17% out of the total global production of dates, making it the largest producer.

What are Figs?

Figs are highly nutritious fruits that are either eaten fresh, cooked, or dried. They grow on trees call Ficus Carica, which belong to the same family as mulberry trees.

Figs have a thin outer layer which may be green, yellow, red, or purple in color, depending on how mature the fruit is. On the inside, the fruit has many tiny seeds and pulp that is either red or white in color.

The seeds are crunchy to eat, while the flesh and skin of figs have a soft texture. The flesh can also be described as a sweet jelly-like pulp that has a flavor of honey and berries.

The process in which figs pollinate is an excellent example of co-evolution. When female fig flowers are ready for pollination, they radiate an aroma that attracts a specific kind of wasp to lay her eggs inside the fruit.

The wasp also carries pollen from the previous tree in which she gave birth. The pollen which falls into the female flower is used by it to reproduce.

Interestingly, there are more than 750 species of figs, each having their own wasp. Some common species of figs include Brown Turkey, Brunswick, and White Marseilles.


What are Dates?

Dates are edible fruits that are eaten fresh or dried. They grow on trees called Phoenix Dactylifera, which are commonly known as date palm trees.

When raw, dates have a crisp flesh like that of an apple. On drying, the fruit becomes sticky and soft.

Dates require a semi-arid or arid climate to be cultivated. As they are loaded with vitamins and fructose which have various health benefits, they make an excellent source of food for people living in deserts and drylands.

Unsurprisingly, they have been farmed and eaten for over 5000 years in Egypt and the Middle East. Date trees that grow in desserts and drylands use the wind to pollinate.

However, trees that are grown in commercial orchards and traditional Oasis horticulture are pollinated manually. They start bearing fruit 4-8 years after being planted.

In about 10 years, the trees start producing enough fruit for commercial harvest. Historically, dates have been a popular fruit across the world.

Hebrews used the fruits to make wine, vinegar, bread, and cakes. In Ancient Rome, it was common for gardens to have date palm.

Pompeii and parts of Italy are known to use them as garden plants as well.


Main Differences Between Figs and Dates

  1. Figs are fruits of the Ficus Carica tree while dates are fruits of the Phoenix Dactylifera tree which is commonly called date palm.
  2. Fresh figs have a soft pulp and tiny crunchy seeds while fresh dates have a crispy flesh like that of an apple.
  3. Fresh figs may be yellow, red, green, or purple in color while fresh dates tend to be yellow or red.
  4. Figs have a pear-like bulbous shape while dates have an oval-cylindrical shape.
  5. Figs taste sweet like honey and have a subtle berry-like flavor while dates taste sweet and caramel-like because of their high sugar content.
  6. Figs grow in a subtropical climate while dates grow in a semi-arid or arid climate.
  7. The leading producer of figs is Turkey while the top producer of dates is Egypt.
Difference Between Figs and Dates
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169534703000624
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390701724264
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