Springtime on Ocracoke Island means fig trees coming back to life and sprouting bright green leaves.
We will have to wait until late summer before the figs ripen and we can feast on the tasty fruit. Actually, however, the fig is not a fruit. Biologist Richard Dawkins describes the fig as a "garden enclosed." For a fascinating account of the mutualistic relationship between figs and fig wasps read chapter 10 of his book, "Climbing Mount Improbable."
I am no expert on figs, but I believe most garden-variety figs in this country, including Ocracoke Island figs, are not dependent on fig wasps. I think they are parthenocarpic, and develop without pollination. New fig trees grow from cuttings, or from branches that bend to the ground and grow roots.
Look for fig trees in yards throughout the village. And later this season look for delicious Ocracoke fig preserves for sale at Village Craftsmen. They are an island delicacy.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a video of Philip Howard telling the story of the 1861 wreck of the Black Squall. You can watch it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032113.htm.