During April 13, 2005 I was on the west slope of the Mt. of Olives and photographed a fig tree with fig on a branch hanging over the road over a garden wall of someone's yard. This was ten days before the Passover of the 23rd and 24rth of 2005. While it was not time for the fig harvest, it was time for the tree to be growing the figs. These were starchy and used as food by the poor. As Jesus approached Jerusalem close to the time of the Passover celebration, he arrived in a town called Bethany. He continued towards Jerusalem and arrived at Bethphage. Bethphage meant "house of the unripe figs". It was in this area where Jesus cursed a barren fig tree. The unripe figs were not considered proper as food to be served in a Sabbath meal (Babylonian Talmud - Erubin), but were considered to be acceptable as an offering to the poor. While one would not normally eat unripe figs, a grower might curse a tree not fruiting in season.
The fig tree at the Tisch zoo was unusually productive. I presume this productivity was assisted by the skill of the gardener for watering it and the presence of bird dung.
I also saw other fig trees in Jerusalem bearing fruit. Immature trees did not bear fruit and occasionally there were mature fig trees that did not bear fruit. I saw one fig orchard east of Haipha and determined that the owner would not want to care for trees producing only leaves and no figs. Based on my limited observations the mature fruit bearing trees were more numerous than the trees producing no fruit.
These figs were not yet ripe. I tried to eat one of them and it tasted to me like a garden vegetable. Only the very hungry might find them to be delicious. I had tasted a smaller unripe fig from the USA in 2004 and found it was starchy without flavor. In years past I had also tried dandelion leaves, cattail roots, and wild onions in my quest for knowledge about wild edible plants.
The fig tree I got these from was growing wild in a public park. I did not want to steal one from someone's yard for my taste test. According to Jewish law the poor were allowed to glean food from the edges of fields.
More about the fig tree: