Ficus is the botanical name of a genus within the mulberry family which includes some 750 species. Most grow in tropical regions where their fruit (figs) form an important source of food for humans and animals. The plant also does well in the mild climate around the Mediterranean. According to archaeological findings the first tree was cultivated for agriculture in the Middle East some 11,000 years ago. The fruit was eaten, the rubber tree provided latex, and the fibres from the pliable bark were used to make fabrics and boxes, amongst other things.