Types of figs trees

Most varieties of figs can be raised and ripened in short growing seasons if grown in pots and stored in a garage or basement during winter. The most early ripening, flavorful, and productive cultivars perform best.

A baker’s dozen of optimal varieties could include: Mt Etna (by many names), Ronde de Bordeaux, Brooklyn White, Florea, Longue d’Aout/Nordland, Marseilles, Violette de Bordeaux (by many names), and the LSU cultivars: Improved Celeste, O’Rourke, Tiger, Purple, Gold, and Scott’s Black. These 13 cultivars cover the flavor and color spectrum and can be prolific producers with great flavor in short growing seasons.

Violette de Bordeaux and Scott’s Black pack perhaps the most intense flavors of this group, and are also the latest ripening.

Florea is very early ripening, as are Ronde de Bordeaux and Improved Celeste, which are two of the most prolific cultivars along with Mt Etna, O’Rourke, and Tiger.

The yellow-ripe Brooklyn White and the green-ripe Longue d’Aout (Nordland) are two of the biggest figs of this group, both very flavorful and productive.

LSU Gold is a big bright honey fig, and LSU purple is a productive dark fig that can taste like maple sugar candy when fully mature. Marseilles is a reliable and shapely yellow honey fig.

Add a couple of odd, fun figs like the clownish looking Violet Sepor and the very bright tangerine-like Mary Lane, both very flavorful, and that’s a fabulous 15 figs. Adding Long Yellow for its big globe size and shape, its brightness and its light agave nectar flavor, plus Black Madeira for a premier intense flavor, and Paradiso (Ischia Green) for a striking green/red look and flavor intensity as well provides an excellent 18 varieties that show the tremendous diversity and bounty that figs can offer to dooryard growers, even in relatively short growing seasons.

Mt Etna Ronde de Bordeaux Brooklyn White Florea Longue d’Aout Marseilles Violette de Bordeaux LSU Improved Celeste LSU O’Rourke Tiger LSU Purple LSU Gold LSU Scott’s Black Violet Sepor Mary Lane Long Yellow Black Madeira / Figo Preto Paradiso

Quality Breba Varieties

In addition to main crop figs, which fruit on the season’s new growth, a limited number of breba crop, or first crop, figs can ripen up to a month before the earliest main crop figs on the buds of the previous year that did not produce figs. Under optimal conditions, breba figs can often rival the quality of main crop figs though sometimes are inferior. After a long winter or off-season, even in limited quantities, the relatively early arrival of breba figs are greatly appreciated. A few good quality breba cultivars include the Violette de Bordeauxs, the Kadotas, Desert King, the Marseilles, the Palermo Reds, Lattarula, Grantham’s Royal, and one of the best: San Miro Piro.

Desert King Palermo Red / Malta Purple Red Kadota Grantham’s Royal Violette de Bordeaux / Nero 600m (White) Marseilles Lattarula San Miro Piro

Contents

Looking for a sweet addition to your garden? Try a dwarf fig tree | San Luis Obispo Tribune

Dwarf fig trees produce sweet fruit twice a year on average. Jacqueline Adams Shubitowski

Dwarf Fig Tree

Ficus carica

Planting areas: USDA Zones 8 to 10. Some varieties developed for zones 5 to 7.

Size: Up to 15 feet tall by 15 feet wide.

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Fruit season: Early summer and late summer or early fall.

Exposure: Full sun.

Pruning needs: Prune in winter to maintain desired size. Cut back runaway shoots, and eliminate crossing branches and dead wood.

Water needs: Water weekly during warm weather.

Snapshot: Dwarf fig trees have sweet, teardrop-shaped fruits and large, tropical-looking leaves.

Figs naturally grow to about the same height and width. Homegrown figs do not need pollinating, and they’re not particular about soil.

Fertilize fig trees with low-nitrogen fertilizer in early spring.

When figs are ripe, they detach easily when lifted and bent back toward the branch.

Pick the fruit as it ripens and protect it from birds if you can. In late fall, pick off the remaining ripe figs and clean up fallen fruit.

Dwarf fig trees do not need pollinating and are not particular about soil. Jacqueline Adams Shubitowski

5 top fig trees

Shopping for a fig tree? Here are five varieties to consider.

‘Black Jack’: With its purple-skinned, sweet pink-fleshed fruits, this variety is similar to mission figs and thrives in California climates. Trees are easily kept small by pruning.

‘Brown Turkey’: This small tree, which has brownish purple fruit, is adaptable to most fig-growing climates and is good for gardens.

‘Celeste’: This variety produces fruit with violet-tinged bronze skin and rosy amber flesh that are good fresh, but dry well on the tree.

‘Desert King’: Unlike most figs, which produce two crops a year, this variety has one late-summer crop of green-skinned, red-fleshed fruit. It grows in all fig-friendly climates, but will do better in cooler areas.

‘Osborn Prolific’ (‘Neveralla’): Figs have dark reddish-brown skin and very sweet amber flesh that is often tinged pink. This variety does best in Northern California coastal areas.

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Cold Hardy Fig Varieties: Tips For Growing Winter Hardy Figs

Most probably native to Asia, figs were spread throughout the Mediterranean. They are a member of the genus Ficus and in the family Moraceae, which contains 2,000 tropical and subtropical species. Both of these facts indicate that fig trees enjoy warmer temps and probably won’t do too well if you live in say, USDA zone 5. Fear not fig lovers living in cool regions; there are some cold hardy fig varieties.

How Cold Hardy are Fig Trees?

So, just how cold hardy are fig trees? Well, you can cultivate cold hardy fig trees in areas where the minimum winter temperatures do not dip below 5 degrees F. (-15 C.). Keep in mind, though, that stem tissue can be damaged at temps well above 5 degrees F., especially if it is a prolonged cold snap.

Established or mature winter hardy figs are more likely to survive an extended cold snap. Young trees of less than two to five years old are likely to die back to the ground, especially if they have “wet feet” or roots.

Best Cold Hardy Fig Trees

Since figs thrive in warm regions, long periods of cold weather limit growth, ergo fruit set and production, and a lengthy freeze will kill them. Temperatures of -10 to -20 degrees F. (-23 to -26 C.) will definitely kill the fig tree. As mentioned, there are some cold hardy fig varieties, but again, keep in mind that even these will need some type of winter protection. Okay, so what are some winter hardy figs?

The three most common cold hardy fig varieties are Chicago, Celeste and English Brown Turkey. These are all also referred to as members of the Common Fig family. Common Figs are self-fertile and there are many, many varieties varying in taste color and growth habit.

  • Chicago – Chicago is the most reliable fig for zone 5 planting, as it will produce plenty of fruit during the growing season even if it freezes to the ground in the winter. Fruit of this cultivar is medium to small in size and richly flavored.
  • Celeste – Celeste figs, also called Sugar, Conant and Celestial figs, also have small to medium fruit. Celeste is a rapid grower with a shrub-like habit attaining between 12-15 feet at maturity. It will also freeze to the ground in low winter temps but will rebound in the spring. This particular cultivar is a little less likely to rebound than Chicago though, so it is best to protect it during the winter months.
  • Brown Turkey – Brown Turkey is a prolific bearer of large fruit. In fact, it sometimes produces two crops in a single year, although the flavor is somewhat inferior to other varieties. It also survives extreme cold temperatures just as Celeste and Chicago. Again to err on the safe side, it is best to provide protection during winter months.

Other cold hardy figs include but are not limited to the following:

  • Dark Portuguese
  • LSU Gold
  • Brooklyn White
  • Florea
  • Gino
  • Sweet George
  • Adriana
  • Tiny Celeste
  • Paradiso White
  • Archipel
  • Lindhurst White
  • Jurupa
  • Violetta
  • Sal’s EL
  • Alma

Growing Cold Hardy Fig Trees

While the three aforementioned fig varieties are the most common cold hardy figs grown, they are not necessarily the best cold hardy figs for your area. Taking into account a possible micro-climate, particularly in urban areas, a USDA zone may jump from a 6 to a 7, which would greatly broaden the number of varieties to grow in your area.

A little trial and error may be in order, as well as discussion with the local Extension office, Master Gardener or nursery to ascertain exactly which fig varieties are suited for your region. Whichever fig you choose, remember that all figs need full sun (a good six hours or more) and well-drained soil. Plant the tree against a protected south wall if possible. You may want to mulch around the base of the tree and or wrap it for protection during the coldest months. Alternatively, grow the tree in a container that can be moved into a protected area like the garage.

Any of the figs are gorgeous specimens to have and once established, are fairly drought tolerant and require little added care. They also have few pest or disease issues. The beautiful large-lobed leaves make a dramatic addition to the landscape and let’s not forget the heavenly fruit — up to 40 pounds from a single mature tree!

Gardening How-to Articles

Fig Trees for Small Backyards or Container Gardens

By Robert Newgarden | July 1, 2011

Figs (Ficus carica) may just be one of the best trees for edible landscapers and urban gardens. They produce an abundance of delicious sweet fruit while thriving amid brick and concrete in containers or small spaces, and provide bold, beautiful foliage in the garden. They are also virtually pest free and practically immortal.

I’m not the first to recognize the near perfection of figs. Figs have been cultivated for thousands of years and are thought to be among the earliest plants domesticated by humans. What our ancestors no doubt realized, and what new generations are rediscovering today, is that figs are an easy-to-manage tree that provides an abundance of luscious fruit.

Planting and Cultivating Fig Trees

Hardy in USDA Zones 7b through 11, figs can survive and indeed thrive in cooler climates when planted in the right location. In Brooklyn, figs appreciate the urban heat-island effect from pavement and buildings, which keeps their roots from freezing. Figs are sun-loving trees and do best in the Northeast when grown in heat-hoarding microclimates, such as near foundations where the heat from the building helps keep the soil warmer through winter or against a south-facing wall to benefit from the radiant heat.

Figs can also be grown in containers if they have winter protection. The container should be no smaller than five gallons and during colder weather needs to be moved into a protected area like an unheated garage or small shed where the temperature won’t fall below 30°F. Figs in unprotected locations can be wrapped to protect them from freezing temperatures and drying winds.

Read More: How to Wrap a Fig Tree to Protect It for the Winter

Unlike many commercially cultivated fig varieties grown in the Mediterranean and California, which require a symbiotic relationship with fig wasps to produce fruit, common figs are parthenocarpic, able to produce edible fruit without pollination. This is because what we call the “fruit” is in fact an enlarged stem covering the flower.

Propagating More Fig Plants

Of course, nonfertilized fruit is seedless. Thankfully, fig tree propagation is easy, in part because of its suckering habit. By taking a division of the tree and planting it, you create a clone plant that can be passed from generation to generation.

One of the most common ways to propagate a fig tree is to prune it in fall and take several leafless, pencil-thick cuttings, bundle them, and bury them horizontally in the ground below the frost line. Over the winter the cuttings will callus and make roots. In the spring, dig up the bundle and insert the cuttings, rooted tip down, in the soil. Given even moisture and protection, top shoots will soon appear and eventually develop into a fruitful tree.

Figs can be kept small by pruning them as shrubs, allowing them to be grown in the smallest of backyard spaces—a boon for urban edible landscapers. The sap of certain figs can be a skin irritant, so be sure to wear gloves when pruning. The large, deeply lobed foliage of shrub-pruned figs looks great planted near other shrubs like rhododendrons and roses.

Harvesting Figs

Even better than its gorgeous foliage, of course, is the fruit. Figs vary in color from yellowish green (called white figs) to copper, bronze, and dark purple. The flesh can be pink, tan, or a soft white. There are several hardy cultivars that do well in cooler climates, including Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey, which has medium to large copper-colored fruit. ‘Celeste’ is another great choice, with smaller fruit that is a purplish-brown color. ‘Hardy Chicago’, which has small to medium fruit with purplish-brown skin and strawberry-pink pulp, also does well.

Many fig cultivars produce two crops per year. The first crop, called the breba, arrives in early summer on the previous year’s wood. The second crop forms in late summer or early fall and stems from the current season’s growth.

Knowing when to pick your figs is as simple as watching the fruit. As they ripen, figs droop from the tree and soften. The longer you can leave them on the tree the sweeter they will be. The best time to harvest is right before they fall from the tree, when you begin to see sugary syrup bead up on the skin. Figs do not last long once harvested, even when refrigerated, and are best eaten fresh off the tree or baked into cookies, tarts, jams, and other sweet treats.

Fresh Fig Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup fresh figs, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter and add beaten egg. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Blend into sugar mixture at low speed. Use a spatula to fold in figs and nuts. Drop dough by spoonfuls on greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Store cooled cookies in an airtight container in the pantry for up to a week. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Adapted from a recipe by the California Fresh Fig Growers Association.

Robert Newgarden is a former gardener at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. He tended the Cashew Plant Family and other plant families in the Plant Family Collection. He also cared for the Herb Garden.

Fig Types: Different Types Of Fig Trees For The Garden

When you consider the number of fig tree varieties available, choosing the right one for your garden is a daunting task. Most home landscapes have room for only one tree, and you want a fig tree that produces an abundance of sweet, tender figs with a minimum of fuss. Here are some suggestions to help you make the right choice.

How Many Types of Fig Trees are There?

There are over 700 named varieties of fig trees, but many of them are of no use to home gardeners. All of the varieties fall into four fig types:

  • Caprifigs – Caprifigs only produce male flowers and never bear fruit. Their only purpose is to pollinate female fig trees.
  • Smyrna – Smyrna figs bear all female flowers. They have to be pollinated by a caprifig.
  • San Pedro – San Pedro figs bear two crops: one on leafless mature wood that requires no pollination and one on new wood that requires pollination by a male flower.
  • Common figs – Common figs are the type usually grown in home landscapes. They don’t need another tree for pollination. Figs that require pollination have an opening that allows the pollinating wasps entry the internal flowers. Common figs don’t need an opening, so they are less susceptible to rot caused by insects and rainwater entering the fruit.

Here are some different types of figs in the common group that perform well in home gardens:

  • Celeste is a small to medium-size brown or purple fig that grows on a fairly large tree. It produces dessert quality fruit that ripens earlier than most other figs.
  • Alma figs aren’t much to look at but the fruit has excellent, rich flavor. It ripens late in the season.
  • Brown Turkey produces a crop of large, tasty figs over a long season. The fruit has attractive flesh and few seeds.
  • Purple Genca, also called Black Genoa or Black Spanish, is a large, deep purple variety with sweet, red flesh.

One of the best ways to find a variety suitable to your area is to visit a local nursery. They will carry fig types suitable for your climate and can make recommendations based on local experience.

Take a closer look into the much-talked-about fig trees and distinguish about the different types of fig trees, get tips on how to plant and care for them, and enjoy fun facts about them.

Known as a tree species that can produce two fruit crops a year, is drought-tolerant, and has the ability to propagate, a fig tree is one that possesses valuable qualities. Belonging to the genus Ficus, this tree was first cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean region and in western Asia almost 5,000 years ago. This tree grows up 15 to 30 feet tall and requires regular pruning. However, the height of this tree can be restricted if it is planted in a container.

Fig trees have been mentioned in the Bible a couple of times. Even when Adam and Eve were naked in heaven, they used the leaves of a fig tree to cover themselves. Buddha obtained his knowledge while he was sitting under the fig tree. Lastly, the women of Kikuya (in Africa) apply fig tree sap onto their bodies because of their strong belief in the tree’s fruitfulness.

After gaining a little insight into this miraculous tree species, it is important to learn about the types of fig trees.

Types of Fig Trees

Adriatic Fig Tree

The Adriatic fig tree is native to the Mediterranean region. The figs on it are light green skinned and have pink flesh when they are fresh. Because their sugar content is really high, the figs grown on this tree are usually dried so they can be used in fig bars or fig pastes. The Adriatic fig tree is considered to be self-pollinating and the fruits have thin skin with scrumptiously sweet pulp. This fig tree can survive through different weather conditions, but the fruit ripens during June (the past year’s growth) and August (the current year’s growth).

Alma Fig Tree

Alma fig trees ripen later in the season and the fruits are rich in flavor, but they do not have an appealing look at first sight. The alma fig tree is sensitive to snow and frost, which is why they should not be grown more than 200 miles from Mexico. This variety is relatively new (it has been around since 1974) and considered one of the tastiest fig types. The Alma fig can be eaten fresh or be canned. Because they have dark patches on their skin, it makes people think about bacterial infections on. The fruit is medium sized, yellow in color and has small seeds.

Black Mission Fig Tree

The black mission fig tree can grows 10 to 30 feet (which is considered quite large) and it can live for a long time if it is being taken care of properly. The black mission fig tree originates from California and produces high-quality figs. The tree is named after mission father that introduced this dark purple skin that turns black as it dried. The pulp of the fruit is pink. Similar to the other fig trees, this tree produces fruits two times a year as well. If the figs over-ripen, the skin of the medium-sized fruit cracks open.

Brown Turkey Fig Tree

The brown fig tree is well-known for its 25 feet height and extensive spread. They are generally appreciated for the fruit and foliage they produce, instead of the blooms. The figs on this tree possess a dark purple skin accompanied by red flesh. Brown turkey figs are sold fresh and dry. The fruits grow during late spring and late summer.

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This fig tree does not produce any fruits that can be eaten. The only thing it can produce is male flowers that are used to pollinate the female fig tree. This wild fig tree grows in southern Europe and southwestern Asia. A caprifig has a thick skin, a pear-shaped body and many small flowers that turn into small fruits that are all inedible. The male caprifig is not juicy and seems to be semi-hollow. This tree ripens inedible fruits three times a year.

Celeste Fig Trees

This is the fig tree that is the hardest to find and it can handle temperatures as low as 15 degrees F and sometimes even lower. The tree grows up to 15 feet tall and has to be planted in a soil that drains well. The reason for this is that it does not grow in soggy soil. This tree is popular in the southeastern United States. It is famous there because it has a high tolerance to the heat and cold. Celeste figs are often referred to as “sweet figs,” because of their high sugar content. The skin of this fruit is violet or light brown and the flesh is a bright red-strawberry color.

Common Fig Trees

As the name suggests, this is the most common fig tree that is available in the world. Moreover, it is a popular one in the United States as well. With no real seeds and no need for pollination, the common fig tree contains brown turkey figs and Celeste figs. This tree type is usually found in houses and it does not depend on other trees for pollination. The figs on the common fig tree are not vulnerable to insects or rotting because they do not have any opening that could let in rainwater that could affect the fruit. This is probably the only fruit that can stay fine for extended periods.

Kadota Fig Tree

The Kadota fig tree has the ability to grow 30 feet high and 30 feet wide. Individuals that love to preserve this tree typically love Kadota fig trees. With a beautiful yellowish-green skin and purple pulp, this fig tree is great for fig preserves. The entire fig is seedless and when it is dried, it becomes light golden. This tree can withstand the cold weather and flourishes the most in zones five and six. The tree is attractive to look at and it can be adaptable if it is sheltered.

Purple Genca Fig Trees

The purple genca fig tree has a medium growth and the ability to grow 13 feet high but plentiful of fruits and foliage. The figs on this tree are referred to as black genoa figs or black Spanish figs. They are dark purple in color, large in size, and have sweet, red flesh. These figs are self-fertilizing and can be eaten fresh or dried. A great thing about these figs is that you can make jam with them as well. This purple genca fig tree is grown both commercially and by home growers.

San Pedro Fig Trees

San Pedro fig trees have two different crops every season. The first crop is grown on mature wood that is leafless and does not need to be pollinated. This crop is called the Breba crop. The second crop is grown on the new wood and needs male flowers for successful pollination. The second crop comes during the later season and if there is not proper pollination, the fruit just falls off the tree because it is even fully developed.

Smyrna Fig Tree

After being pollinated by caprifigs, the Smyrna fig tree bears female flowers only. Depending on their geographical location, this fig tree is sometimes considered the Calimyrna fig tree. Both these trees contain figs that are soft in texture, have a delicious taste and are high in fiber.

When the Smyrna figs are fresh, they have a greenish-yellow color, and when they are dried, they have a light golden color and begin to taste like nuts. This is one reason why dried figs are so popular among people. Figs are a great, healthy, and quick snack. However, if they are not being pollinated properly, the fruit will drop from the tree before it even develops fully.

Fun Facts about Fig Trees

  • Figs are grown on the Ficus tree which is a part of the Mulberry family.
  • Ficus carica is a part of the Asian species of flowering plants that belong to the Mulberry family.
  • Wild fig trees were first grown in West Asia, South Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean Sea almost a hundred million years ago. This is when the dinosaurs were around.
  • There are many primates that feed on figs, along with the people of the olden times that fed on wild figs.
  • The original fig tree was cultivated in the ancient times and it grew in the wild in areas that were sunny, dry and rocky. These areas had fresh soil.
  • Almost 11,000 years ago, habitants in West Asia began farming fig trees. Farmed figs are considered to be the first kind of food that has ever been farmed, even before there were barley and wheat.
  • If the climate is good, the tree can bear 2 crops in one year. The first one comes during the early spring/summer time (from last year’s buds) and the other is the chief harvest which takes place during the fall season (from spring’s buds).
  • Fig trees are self-fruitful which means you only need to plant one tree in order to obtain its fruits. Mature fig trees have the ability to grow 15 to 30 feet tall.
  • Figs have fragrant leaves that are 4.7 to 9.8 inches long and 3.9 t0 7.1 inches wide.
  • Figs have fewer calories which provide the body with soluble dietary vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Dried and fresh figs are rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, folates, and niacin. These vitamins are the cofactors of metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
  • Dried figs are the best source of minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, selenium, manganese, potassium, and calcium. All these minerals are an aid in red blood cell production and cellular oxidation.
  • 100 grams of dried figs have 162 milligrams of calcium in it. This is 16% of the amount you need to consume daily. More importantly, half a cup of figs is equal to half a cup of milk in terms of calcium.
  • Turkey is known as the country that has the highest population of figs followed by Iran, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, and Greece.
  • Figs are the fruits that need to be consumed on a daily basis because they are beneficial to health. Figs help with constipation, control diabetes, lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, promotes bone health, preserves vision, aids in weight loss and make the liver healthy.

Planting a Fig Tree

Tips

  • Feel free to plant a fig tree outdoors in zone 8 or lower. If you live in a zone where the winter temperatures get too cold for extended periods, the best option would be to grow a fig in a container and stored inside.
  • Plant a fig tree outdoors during the early spring or late fall time that is when the tree is inactive.
  • If you are growing your fig tree in a container, grow it in a soil-based potting mix and place in fine bark chips so you can improve the drainage. During the summer, the tree must be kept in the sun. Add in high nitrogen fertilizer every month during the spring and summer times. Moderately add water to the tree. In the winter, keep the tree inside and check to see if the soil is moist.
  • Outdoor fig trees should be planted in the spring or in early fall when the sun is out. These trees can grow properly in all types of soils as long as it has organic material and is well drained.
  • Plant a fig tree at least 20 feet away from trees and buildings.
  • Fig trees have deep roots so keep that in mind when choosing where to plant it.

Planting a Container Fig Tree in the Ground

  1. Take the plant out of its container and remove any roots that may be circling. With the help of shears, cut the roots as needed.
  2. Dig a hole in the desired place. The hole should be a few inches wider and deeper than the roots and their spread. Place the tree on a small pile of soil right in the center of the hole. The roots need to be away from the trunk without having to bend them too much.
  3. The tree should be planted 2 to 4 inches deeper than it was planted originally in its container.

Taking Care of Fig Trees

  • Watering young fig trees on a regular basis can help them be established. If you are living in dryer climates, your fig tree should be watered every week.
  • Until and unless they are grown in containers, a fig tree does not need fertilization regularly. But, if your tree is not growing properly (in one growing season it should grow 12 inches), you can add ½ to 1 pound of nitrogen supplement. Divide it into 3 to 4 parts and start applying it to the tree during the end of summer or winter night.
  • Fig trees need pruning. Therefore, during the dormant seasons, take away the dead, weak and diseased branches so the tree can grow properly.
  • If you live in a cold region, your container fig tree needs to be moved indoors and the soil needs to be moist.
  • If your area is usually cold and the tree is planted outside, it will die quickly if the ground is too cold. If the tree has hardwood, the area below the ground will not be affected. Just make sure you are taking away all the dead wood when the tree is dormant so there can be grown during the springtime.

The fig tree has a rich history and the fruits on it have endless benefits, which is why it is important for everyone to be enlightened about the different types of fig trees. All the different fig trees are classified as Ficus carica regardless of where they may be cultivated around the world. A fig tree is a gift for the world, which is why it should be protected at all costs

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Fig trees were first cultivated in western Asia and the eastern Mediterranean more than 5,000 years ago. These trees are drought-tolerant, simple to propagate, and produces two fruit crops each year. While it can grow to a height of 15 to 30 feet tall, these trees take well to pruning and can be grown in a container to limit its height to 10 feet.

Fig trees have been mentioned many times in the Bible to symbolize Israel or people without faith. When Adam and Eve realized they were naked, they used fig leaves to cover themselves. Buddha also gained his enlightenment while sitting under a fig tree. In Africa, women of the Kikuya culture put fig tree sap on their bodies because of their belief in the tree’s fruitfulness.

Types

Adriatic Fig Trees

Because of its high sugar content, this type of fig is frequently used for drying and in fig pastes and fig bars. It comes from the Mediterranean region, and when it’s fresh the skin is light green in color, with pale pink flesh. The tree of Adriatic figs is self-pollinating, and the fruit itself is thin-skinned with a pulp that is sweet and tasty. They can withstand a variety of weather conditions and they ripen in June, usually from the previous year’s growth, as well as in August on the current year’s growth.

Alma Fig Trees

Ripening late in the season, Alma figs have a very rich flavor, although they are not exactly the most attractive fruit you’ll ever see. A relatively new variety, it has only been around since 1974, and it is very tasty. It is perfect for eating fresh and for canning, and they sometimes develop dark spots on their skins as they are developing, reminding some people of a bacterial infection. Alma figs have medium-sized fruit, small seeds, and a light yellow skin. The trees are sensitive to frost and therefore, they shouldn’t be grown more than 200 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.

Black Mission Fig Trees

These figs are named after the mission fathers who introduced the fruit, and they have a dark purple skin which turns to black when it’s dried. It also has pink flesh and it originated in California. The Black Mission figs are a very high-quality fruit, and like some other fig trees, it produces its fruit twice a year. It is a medium-sized fruit with skin that sometimes cracks when it ripens. It grows to be quite big, and it lives for a very long time.

Brown Turkey Fig Trees

The Brown Turkey fig has a deep purple skin and red flesh. They are sold both dried and fresh, and they grow their fruit in late spring and again in late summer. They have very hardy roots and require only light pruning once a year. They also get up to 25 feet wide and high, and they are most prized for their fruit and foliage, not their blooms.

Caprifigs

These types of figs do not bear any edible fruit, because they only produce male flowers and are there to pollinate the female fig tree. It is also known as Ficus carica, and it is a wild fig that grows in southwestern Asia and southern Europe. The caprifig is pear-shaped and has numerous small flowers, which later turn into inedible multiple fruits. Male caprifigs are not juicy and plump on the inside, but rather they seem semi-hollow. They ripen three times a year – fall, summer, and spring – and they have very thick skin.

Celeste Fig Trees

The Celeste fig tree is one of the hardiest fig trees available, and they can even handle temperatures of 15 below Fahrenheit. They can get up to 15 feet high, and they have to be planted in soil that drains well because it does not do well when it’s soggy. Celeste figs are so sweet that they are often referred to as “sugar figs,” and they have skin that is light brown to violet in color and flesh that is a bright strawberry-red color. In the Southeastern United States especially, this is one of the most popular types of fig trees, and its tolerance to both cold and heat is one of the reasons why.

Common Fig Trees

Like its name suggests Common fig trees are the most popular type of fig tree in the United States. With no need for pollination and no true seeds, Common fig trees include the Celeste and Brown Turkey. The Brown Turkey fig is mildly sweet, and the Celeste fig is even sweeter. Common fig trees are those usually found in homes, and they do not need another tree to pollinate. In fact, Common figs are also not susceptible to insects that cause them to rot because they don’t need any type of opening, which also means that rainwater cannot enter the fruit, thereby keeping them healthier for a longer period of time.

Kadota Fig Trees

With a greenish-yellow skin and purple flesh, Kadota fig trees are a favorite among people who love to make fig preserves. The figs are almost entirely seedless, and when dried they are a light golden color. The tree does well in cold weather, and it grows best in zones five and six. It is also a very attractive tree, and it is very adaptable if the tree is sheltered. It is grown by both home and commercial growers, and it only requires light annual pruning. It can also get up to 30 feet high and 30 feet wide, so it is quite large.

Purple Genca figs are also called Black Spanish or Black Genoa figs, and they are large, purple in color, and have very sweet and red flesh. They are self-fertilizing and are perfect when eaten fresh or dried and when making jam. The tree can get up to 13 feet high and they enjoy medium growth and plenty of fruit and foliage. It is also a popular tree for both home growers and commercial growers, and it can be pruned to around six feet in height.

San Pedro figs actually bear two different crops each season. The first one is on mature, leafless wood and doesn’t require pollination. Called the Breba crop, this is the first crop for the San Pedro figs. The second one is borne on new wood that has to have pollination by a male flower. This crop occurs later in the season and if pollination doesn’t occur, the fruit simply falls off of the tree before it is developed fully.

Smyrna Fig Trees

Smyrna figs only bear female flowers, and they must be pollinated by a caprifig. It is also called the Calimyrna fig, with the only difference being where they are grown. Both Calimyrna and Smyrna figs are high in fiber, soft in texture, and have an amazing taste that people love.

They are perfect for a quick, healthy snack. If these figs aren’t pollinated, the fruit simply drops out of the trees before they finish developing, which is why growers will often place baskets of caprifigs near their Smyrna trees. This measure, especially if they include the fig wasps that the caprifigs are hosting, guarantee that pollination will occur.

When fresh, Smyrna figs are a yellowish-green color, and when they are dried they have a soft, golden skin and a flavor similar to nuts, which is one of the reasons they are so popular for people wanting a dried fig.

Interesting Facts about Fig Trees

Lots of Different Varieties

Currently, there are roughly 700 varieties of fig trees, mostly grown in areas that do not get too cold.

Not All of Them Are Trees

In addition to trees, figs can grow on shrubs, vines, and even epiphytes. They can also grow as a potted plant because as a general rule they are an easy plant to grow.

Rainforests Love Them

A lot of rainforests contain fig trees, and their fruit is used to feed thousands of types of animals, including monkeys, birds, and even bats. They even produce their fruit all year long.

Fig Wasps Are Important

Almost every fig tree is pollinated by its own fig wasp. This is an exciting example of co-evolution.

Healthier Cooking

If you puree figs, you can use them as a source of fat when you’re baking, making the final product a lot healthier to eat.

It’s All Found in California

Of all of the figs produced every year in the United States, 100% of the dried figs and 98% of the fresh figs come from California.

The Garden of Eden

Many experts feel that it was figs, not apples, which were found in the Garden of Eden in the bible.

A Very Healthy Snack

Not surprisingly, figs offer a lot of health benefits. They contain a lot of calcium and fiber, not to mention numerous vitamins and minerals. They also contain numerous antioxidants, and centuries ago they were thought to increase fertility and abundance. Figs have also been used to reduce the urge to smoke, as a substitute for coffee, and to soothe insect bites, among other benefits.

A Deep-Rooted Fruit

Some types of fig trees have very deep roots, with some of them having roots that get down to 400 feet below the ground.

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Fig

Types and cultivation

In addition to the caprifig, there are three other horticultural types of figs: Smyrna, White San Pedro, and Common. Smyrna-type figs develop only when fertile seeds are present, and these seeds account for the generally excellent quality and nutty flavour of the fruit. Figs of the White San Pedro type combine the characteristics of both the Smyrna and the Common type on one tree. First-crop figs develop without flower pollination, while second-crop figs in axils of leaves require it. Common figs such as the Dottato, Fraga, and Brown Turkey do not require pollination of flowers of either crop, the seeds in the mature fruit usually being hollow. The flowers of such figs were once regarded as incapable of fecundation and were therefore designated as mule flowers, but it has been proved that all common figs can produce fertile seeds if the flowers are pollinated.

The varieties of figs grown in various parts of the world run into the hundreds. Their nomenclature is very much confused, since the same fig is often grown in neighbouring provinces under entirely different names. When a fig is introduced into other countries, a new name is commonly coined. Thus, Lob Injir of Smyrna became Calimyrna in California, and Dottato of Italy became Kadota. The Italian San Piero is known in England as Negro Largo, in France as Aubique Noire, and in California as San Pedro Black, Brown Turkey, or Black Spanish.

Fig trees are propagated from cuttings of dormant wood taken in February in the Northern Hemisphere and planted in nursery rows. These grow in one season to a height of 1 metre (3 feet) and are ready to transplant at the end of the growing season. The trees thrive in a wide range of soil types and in most Mediterranean countries receive water only from the natural rainfall. Some varieties produce only one crop, in summer or fall. Some bear two crops, the first maturing in June or July on wood of the previous growth and the second ripening in summer or fall in the axils of the leaves of the same season. In cool climates such as those of England and central France, most varieties mature only the first crop. Pot culture of figs in greenhouses has long been practiced in England and other countries.

figRipening figs on a common fig tree (Ficus carica).© korkeng/Fotolia

In most districts, figs are gathered when they fall and placed on trays for drying. Turning and manipulating during the drying process improves the texture and quality of the product. In the Old World, figs are grown commercially in Italy, Turkey, Algeria, Greece, Portugal, and Spain.

Ficus citrifolia, Shortleaf Fig1

Michael G. Andreu, Melissa H. Friedman, Mary McKenzie, Heather V. Quintana, and Robert J. Northrop2

Family

Moraceae, mulberry family.

Genus

Ficus is the ancient Latin word for “fig.”

Species

The species name, citrifolia, a combination of the Latin prefix citri, meaning “citron-like,” and the Latin suffix folia, meaning “leaved,” describes the tree’s leaves, which look similar to those of many citrus species.

Common Name

Shortleaf Fig, Wild Banyantree

The common name “shortleaf fig” is based on the relatively short length of the leaves compared to other fig species.

Description

This semi-deciduous fig tree is native to Florida and is naturally found in tropical hammocks throughout south Florida, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the West Indies, and some regions in Central America, such as Belize and the Yucatan. It requires full sun for optimal growth and can reach heights between 40 to 50 feet. Leaves are simple, alternate, and range from 2 to 4 inches long. The leaf appears oval but the base of the leaf is rounded and the tip of the leaf is sharply pointed. Leaves are dark green and smooth with a leathery texture and entire or smooth margin. A shortleaf fig’s trunk can grow to a diameter of 2 feet or greater, and its bark is light to yellowish brown. Blooms are inconspicuous, occurring inside of figs. Fruits appear on elongated stalks, are ¼ to ½ inch in diameter, and turn from yellow to purple when ripe.

Figure 1.

Leaves and figs on Ficus citrifolia.

Credit:

mauroguanandi, CC BY 2.0

Allergen

Though related to mulberries (known allergens), members of the fig genus are typically not allergy inducing, causing few to no allergies. However, it should be noted that the milky sap produced by these plants can cause a skin rash or irritation. In addition, consumers may experience numbness or soreness of the mouth due to a natural enzyme contained in the fruit.

Storm Tolerance

This fig tree does not tolerate flooding by salty or brackish water, nor does it tolerate salt spray.

Applications

Cultural

The shortleaf fig tree, along with others around the world, has been used as a source of chewing gum. Its milky sap, called latex, is extracted and treated in order to create this product.

Horticultural

Besides the strangler fig (Ficus aurea), this is the only other native fig species in Florida and is commonly seen in yards of older neighborhoods in south Florida. Though it is not as aggressive as the strangler fig (and other exotic fig species), its seed still has the potential to take root in the canopies of other trees. The spreading canopy of this tree is attractive and provides pleasant shade but requires plenty of growing space.

Medicinal

Modern studies have shown that extracts of many fig species are antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. It has been documented that the indigenous people of Panama used the bark of the shortleaf fig to treat wounds. The Seminoles used the bark of the strangler fig for the same reason, making it likely that they used the shortleaf fig in a similar manner.

Wildlife

Fruit-eating birds, such as the cedar waxwing, benefit from the fruits produced by this tree. Shortleaf fig is also known to be a larval host plant for some species of butterflies, moths, and wasps. Interestingly, this tree can only be pollinated by the host-specific wasp Pagascapus assuetis.

Austin, D. F. 2004. Florida ethnobotany. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Gledhill, D. 1989. The names of plants (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.

Nelson, G. 1994. The trees of Florida: A reference and field guide. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press.

Ogren, T. L. 2000. Allergy-free gardening: The revolutionary guide to healthy landscaping. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Osorio, R. 2001. A gardener’s guide to Florida’s native plants. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. (n.d.). PLANTS database. Retrieved from http://plants.usda.gov/index.html

Footnotes

This document is FOR 266, one of a series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date June 2010. Reviewed June 2019. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

Michael G. Andreu, associate professor of forest systems, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Melissa H. Friedman, former biological scientist, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Mary McKenzie, former research assistant, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Heather V. Quintana, former research assistant, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; and Robert J. Northrop, Extension forester, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

Fig Tree

A traditional favorite fruit tree of the Deep South, edible fig (Ficus carica) is a low-branching plant with multiple trunks; it grows fairly rapidly to 1530 feet tall and spreads at least as wide. In the Middle South, it may freeze back to the ground during cold winters and act like a big shrub. It’s easy to grow in a large container and can also be trained as an espalier.

Heavy, gray-barked, smooth trunks (gnarled in really old trees) are picturesque in silhouette. Bright green, rough-textured leaves with three to five lobes are 49 inches long and nearly as wide. Casts dense shade. Winter framework, tropical-looking foliage, strong trunk and branch pattern make fig a top-notch ornamental tree, especially near a patio where it can be illuminated from beneath. Protect container plants in winter. Fruit drop is a problem immediately above deck or paving.

The type of figs generally grown in the South do not require pollination. Some will even bear two crops. Depending on the selection, the first crop comes in June or July on last year’s wood; the second and more important one comes in July to October from current summer’s wood. Keep fruit picked as it ripens; protect from birds if you can. In late fall, pick off any remaining ripe figs and clean up fallen fruit.

Types differ in climate adaptability; most need prolonged high temperatures to bear good fruit, while some thrive in cooler conditions. Selections are noted below. Those with everbearing in their name will produce a good crop even if damaged by cold the previous winter.

In general, the darker colored figs usually have greater shelf life. The lighter ones may have fantastic flavor, but may lose quality more quickly.

Alma

  • Very sweet, medium-size fig with golden brown skin and amber-to-tan flesh.

Brown Turkey

  • Adaptable to most fig climates; widely grown in Southeast.
  • Small and cold hardy; good garden tree.
  • Fruit has purplish brown skin, pinkish amber flesh; good for fresh eating.

Celeste

Conadria

  • Choice thin-skinned white fig blushed violet; white-to-red flesh, fine flavor.
  • Takes intense heat without splitting.

Genoa

  • (‘White Genoa’).
  • Greenish yellow to white skin; strawberry to yellow flesh.

Green Ischia

  • Light green to yellowish green skin, red flesh.
  • Light and refreshing; good fresh or dried.
  • Plant has low upright, spreading form.

Italian Black

  • Jet black fruit with red pulp.
  • Produces two crops a year.

Italian Everbearing

  • Resem- bles ‘Brown Turkey’ but bears somewhat larger fruit with reddish brown skin.
  • Good fresh or dried.

Kadota

Lemon

  • (‘Blanche’).
  • Medium-large green figs distinctively shaped without a slender neck.
  • Also known as ‘Marseilles’.

LSU Everbearing

  • Medium-large figs with yellow-green skin and sweet, white-to-amber flesh.
  • Produces fruit from July through fall.

LSU Purple

  • Dark purple skin with whitish, amber flesh with flecks of pink.
  • Good flavor when fully ripe.
  • Vigorous, upright, spreading tree.

O’Rourke. Medium-size fruit with bronze-violet tinted skin like ‘Celeste’. Amber flesh with light pink overtones.

Papa John

  • Medium-size fruit with dark purple skin and strawberry flesh.
  • Great flavor, cold hardy, strong tree, good producer.

Peter’s Honey’ (‘Rutara’). Fruit has greenish yellow skin, amber flesh. Very sweet.

Texas Everbearing

  • Medium to large fig with brownish yellow skin, pinkish amber flesh.

White Adriatic

  • Medium to large, sweet white figs with yellowish green skin, strawberry pink flesh.
  • Very drought tolerant.

White Marseilles

  • Greenish yellow, thin skin with translucent white flesh.
  • This is sweet and reliable.

Not particular about soil. In the Middle South, plant figs near a south wallor train them against oneto benefit from reflected heat. Cut back tops hard at planting. As tree grows, prune lightly each winter: Cut out dead wood, crossing branches, and low-hanging branches that interfere with traffic. Pinch back runaway shoots at any time. Avoid deep cultivation, which may damage surface roots. Do not use high-nitrogen fertilizers; they stimulate growth at expense of fruit. If burrowing animals are a problem, plant trees in ample wire baskets. Figs are not usually browsed by deer.

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