Gular fig tree or "Athi" (Malayalam) or East Indian fig tree is a medicinal tree most commonly found in South India.Ficusracemosa Linnbelongs to the family of Moraceaeandis a moderate-sized avenue tree found throughout India either wild or cultivated for its fruits. It is widely used in indigenous systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy. In the traditional system of medicine, various parts of this tree such as bark, root, leaves, fruits and latex are used in the treatment of dysentery, diarrhoea, diabetes, bilious affections, stomachache, menorrhoea, haemoptysis, piles and also as a carminative and astringent.
The genus Ficus constitutes an important group of trees with immense medicinal value. It is a sacred tree of the Hindus and Buddhists. Among the varied number of species, the most important ones are the four trees that constitute the group “Nalpamaram”, namely, F. racemosa, F. microcarpa, F. benghalensis and F. religiosa (athi, ithi, peral and arayal respectively).
The pollination of the fig tree is a natural wonder. When the female flowers inside the immature fruit are ready for pollination, the fig emits an enticing aroma that attracts female wasps. They run around in the interior of the fruit visiting many flowers, laying eggs inside the future seeds that will nourish their progeny, and also spreading the pollen collected from the previous fig where they were born
The tree is medium to moderate sized deciduous. The rich green foliage provides a good shade. The leaves are dark green, 7.5-10 cm long, glabrous; receptacles small subglobose or pyriform, in large clusters from old nodes of main trunk. The fruits receptacles are 2-5 cm in diameter, pyriform, in large clusters, arising from the main trunk or large branches.
The ficuscarica or common fig tree is different from ficusracemosa or gular. The popularly known common fig tree is also called the cluster fig tree and the Indian fig tree in different parts of the world. In all varieties of fig trees, the fruits grow on or close to the tree trunk, termed cauliflory.