Nearly all informants (99.12%) were native to the place where they were interviewed. The ages of informants varied from 15 to 80 years (Table 1). Out of five ethnic groups, Pa-O represented over half of all informants (they did the most collecting and warranted a heavier research effort) whereas Bamar represented the fewest respondents (mainly market stall managers) (Table 1). In this study, informants mentioned a total of eight species. The species names and voucher specimen numbers for each species are shown in (Table 2).
Folk and taxonomic names
Local naming systems distinguish figs according to shape, size and taste of leaves and fruit (Table 3). Although no common name exists for all the species in the genus, most of the big Bayan trees and related species in the genus Ficus start with the local prefix “nyaung” in Burmese languages. For example, F. concinna is “nyaung-thabye”, F. geniculata, and white fig are called “nyaung-chin”, and the sacred fig is “nyaung-bodhi” or “nyaung-taw”. Sometimes, local people name the plants based on the flavor of the edible parts. For example, sour tastes are “chin” in Burmese languages, so a sour young fig leaf bud is called “nyaung-chin-phoo”. For this reason, F. geniculata, and white fig share the same name “nyaung-chin”. In Shan language, F. geniculata and white fig are described as “phak-hee” meaning ‘the wild vegetable with sour taste’. In the Pa-O language, the word “cha” means edible; the edible female fig of F. semicordata is called “thadut-cha”, the edible F. geniculata and White fig share the name “kharone-cha”.
The Burmese name for roxburgh fig is “sin-thaphan”, which means “elephant fig” due to its large leaf. Danu, Shan, Intha, and Pa-O share the name “phak-ohn” or “phak-wah” for this species, meaning “big leaf fig tree”, similar to the meaning of “elephant fig” in Burmese language. F. racemosa shares the same ethnic name “phak-de” for the Pa-O and Danu. Intha and Shan call it “tha-phan”.
F. regligiosa is considered a sacred tree across the study region. The Bamar call it “nyaung-bodhi” meaning “Buddha tree”. The Danu people call it “nyaung-taw”, with the respectful “taw” for worshiping Buddha and elders in the Buddhist community. The Intha and Pa-O call it “nyaung-ni” referring to the red colored young leaves. The Shan show their respect for the sacred fig with the name “phak-nyaung” (Table 2) with “phak” for wild vegetable and the respectful affix “nyaung”.
F. geniculata and white fig are considered to be distinct species but were given the same local name and local people could not differentiate between them. F. oligodon and F. hainanensis were considered to be the same ethnospecies as roxburgh fig across local communities and are also described as synonyms for roxburgh fig according to the “World Flora Online” database 
There were altogether 927 use-reports in all four use categories (Fig. 2). The greatest number of use-reports (UR = 228) were recorded for F. geniculata and white fig and each of these species had a correspondingly high use value (UV = 2). These two important species were followed by cluster fig with (UR = 145, UV = 1.27), F. semicordata (UR = 114, UV = 1), roxburgh fig (UR = 111, UV =0.97), the sacred fig (UR = 54, UV = 0.47), F. hispida (UR = 29, UV = 0.25), and F. concinna (UR = 18, UV = 0.16).
General used categories
The generalized use categories of figs are shown in Figure 2. All the eight fig species were mainly used for food followed by acute disease, chronic disease and animal feed. F. concinna was only reported for food. While F. religiosa was reported for food and acute disease uses, F. geniculata and F. virens were reported for food, acute and chronic disease uses, and the rest of the species were reported for all four use categories.
Most of the uses reported were for food (sum UR food = 867) in all four townships (Fig 3). The young green figs of roxburgh fig, cluster fig, F. hispida and F. semicordata were commonly eaten as salad or as a side dish with fish paste and preserved in salt water. The ripe figs of these species are also eaten directly or with jaggery and sugar as a snack. A homemade beverage is made from the ripe figs of F. semicordata by preserving them with sugar for one or more weeks. Only the ripe female figs of dioecious figs are edible, the male fruits are low in nutrients and not palatable . A proverb among Intha people compares the male fruit of dioecious fig with insincere people ‘although they may look good, there are wasps inside and the taste is poor’. The young leaves or leaf buds of all the reported figs except F. semicordata were eaten as vegetables in salad, soup, or fried with rice powder.
Young leaves and leaf buds were the most common edible parts when compared with fruit. They were used more than fruits (sum UR Youngleaves and leaf buds= 701) and most commonly prepared in soup with peas and beans or in potato soup by all five ethnic groups. The Intha “saykha-hin” soup is mainly made of cluster fig leaves. Young boiled fig leaves are often paired with tomato sauce or fish paste as a side dish. The mixture of young leaves and rice powder are fried and eaten as a vegetable “pakora”. The young leaves or leaf buds are also preserved with salt in bamboo tubes to be eaten year-round. The pickled young leaves are used in salads and side dishes or as a snack with evening tea. The fruits of F. concinnna, F. geniculata, white fig and leaves of F. semicordata were not reported to be eaten. The food uses of the young leaf of some fig species are shown in Figure 3.
Fig fruits were used as animal feed and fodder by five informants of Pa-O people and one Danu informant (sum UR animal feed = 9). The ripe fig of roxburgh fig was used to feed pigs and F. hispida, cluster fig tree and F. semicordata were used to feed both pigs and cattle. Fig leaves were not reported to be used for feed.
Except F. concinna all species are used for medicine across the four townships. They are used for treating 16 major health conditions (sum UR medicinal uses = 51). The leaves, fruits and latex are used to treat topical and internal diseases including: snake bites (9 UR), the white latex of F. hispida, cluster fig and F. semicordata are applied topically; heart disease (6 UR), the ripe fruits of roxburgh fig, cluster fig, and F. semicordata are eaten directly or in jam mixed with jaggery or sugar; indigestion (3 UR), the ripe fig of F. semicordata is eaten directly, the young leaves of roxburgh fig are eaten as salad; hemorrhoid (1 UR), the decoction of the bark of roxburgh fig is taken orally; ulcer (1UR), the decoction of stem bark juice is applied to the ulcer; cuts and wounds (6 UR), the white latex of the sacred fig is applied directly, the crushed fruit of F. hispida is used as a plaster; leucorrhoea (vaginal discharge) (1 UR), the decoction of the bark and leaf of roxburgh fig is taken orally; urinary diseases (5 UR), the ripe fruit of F. semicordata is eaten directly, leaves from F. geniculata and white fig are eaten as a soup. This soup and the boiled leaf of cluster fig are also used for treating diabetes (4 UR), excessive sweating (2 UR) and as a tonic for postpartum health (2 UR). Other medical treatments include diarrhea (4 UR), young leaves of F. geniculata, F. hispida, and white fig are eaten as side dish after boiling in hot water; constipation (1 UR), ripe fruit of F. semicordata eaten directly; fever (1 UR), ripe fig of cluster fig is roasted over fire and taken with salt; hypertension (1 UR), young leaves of F. hispida are eaten as side dish after boiling in hot water; irregularmensuration (1 UR), ripe fruit of F. semicordata eaten directly or in jam mixed with jaggery or sugar; longevity (1 UR), ripe fruit of F. semicordata is preserved with honey or sugar and taken year-round for longevity of elderly patients and those in menopause; herpes (1 UR), latex of cluster fig is applied on the skin; and pulmonary diseases (i.e. asthma and other overabundance of mucus) (1 UR), the ripe fruit of F. semicordata is eaten directly. The medicinal uses of all fig species are shown in Figure 4.
Economic uses were common (sum UR economic uses = 88). The mature leaves of F. semicordata were reported to be used for polishing wood by one Danu informant. The young leaves and buds of F. geniculata, cluster fig and white fig were sold as vegetable in local markets in all four townships (Fig.3). Many of these were found in Hopong market and were reported to be in high demand during their short available season. F. geniculata and white fig were sold as one species based on the sizes of leaves and buds. It was estimated that fig sales generate up to 10% of household incomes for fig wild collectors, and up to 5% of household incomes of vendors (vegetable sellers). This income comes primarily during the intensive collection period.
In general fig species are well managed and conserved mainly under the influence of religion belief. Conservation practices were reported for all fig species. Informants in all the cultural groups in four townships except Bamar stated that all the species are conserved in the wild as a part of wild collection, especially species in high demand such as F. genicula and F. virens (111 out of 114 informants reported to use). They retain and protect the wild edible figs growing around the villages and farms for seasonal food, shading and fencing (Fig.3). 36 (32%) informants were reported that they cultivate fig trees in their home compounds for household consumption and sometime sell the surplus.
Depending on the size, age and location of the individual tree, local people believe that they are home to tree-gods. They customarily preserve the tree from the religious point of view and disturbing or damaging the tree is taboo. Many of the communities worship a tree-god (the guardian spirit of tree) called Yokka-soe who is guarding the sacred fig tree (F. religiosa), bayan trees (F. benghalensis L.), as well as long-lived big trees. People believed that the tree-god (Yokka-soe) is benevolent to humans. On the other hand, he may harm to human if someone misbehave to him or the tree he is guarding. 15 (13%) informants reported that they have their own experience with that when they tried to collect some of the fig trees. While 94 (82%) informants said that they have ever heard about taboo from the older generations and the other people who have experience of breaking the taboo. There are five fig species; F. religiosa (10 citations), F. racemosa (3 citations), F. geniculata (1 citation), F. concinna (1 citation), and F. virens (1 citation) reported to conserve under traditional taboo because of their size, age and location in this study.
However, there are some actions of local people influencing negative impact on the sustainable use of figs. Firewood collection and small-scale charcoal burning (only reported in Pindaya Township) have minor negative impacts. Local people collect firewood for drying tea leaves. F. semicordata is the most cited species for firewood (UR Firewood = 78). Some other minor risks are over-collection of young leaves and leaf buds for both household consumption and selling. Farmland extensions and road extensions are also threats.
When asked to assess changes in the availability of figs in the past 10 years 73% of the informants said there were no obvious changes. 94 out of 114 informants cited local conservation practices that inform and enforce sustainable collection. The importance of conservation practices across eight species in four townships was summarized based on the citation of 114 informants (Fig. 4).
Harvesting practice of fig by local ethnic groups
Informants responded that all the eight figs were harvested from the wild. F. geniculata and F. virens were commonly harvested followed by cluster fig, F. semicordata and F. concinna, roxburgh fig, and F. hispida. According to the informants, the best season for harvesting leaves and buds is in the late winter to summer and the best time to collect fruits is in the monsoon season. The production of young leaves and leaf buds is supported through pruning. Household consumption is the main purpose for collection but some surpluses are sold as a source of side income. The local people mentioned that fruits were mainly collected by the children as snack but they were not often eaten by adults and are left to grow wild. However, figs that are a source of fruit (e.g. roxburgh fig, F. hispida, and F. semicordata) are harvested twice annually, during peak fruit production from June to August and from October to December but can be collected in lower abundance throughout the year. The informants reported that the harvest times can vary according to weather and geographic conditions.
Comparative uses among ethnic groups
The number of species used was different among ethnic groups and geographic locations (Fig. 5). Danu and Pa-O had the greatest number of uses followed Shan, Intha and Bamar. The Danu and Pa-O shared uses for eight figs. Danu, Pa-O and Shan share uses for six species (roxburgh fig, F. geniculata, cluster fig, the sacred fig, F. semicordata, and white fig.). The Intha ethnic group shares five species with Danu, Shan and Pa-O (F. geniculata, cluster fig, the sacred fig, white fig and F. semicordata). The Bumar are the smallest informant group (n = 4) and only reported two figs (F. geniculata and white fig), which were also common to all other ethnic groups in the study area.