What Fig is that?

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Texas Everbearing Fig, 2016

We first started growing figs about 8 years ago.

The first tree that survived and produced figs was “Texas Everbearing”.
In a good year — rain while setting fruit, hot and dry as fruit ripens —
we can pick about 120 pounds in 5 to 6 weeks that include all of July, with a few days in August. This year was one of those harvests! (There’s plenty to share and people willing to pick them!)

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LSU Purple Fig, 2016

About 4 years ago, we decided to try the “LSU Purple” fig variety.This one is a slightly more sweet than the Texas Everbearing, but it takes much longer to ripen (must be a very deep purple color, lighter purple is not ripe), and it produces a few figs at a time for a longer period — often starting in Late July and continuing well into December with moderate frost tolerated.

 

Last year, we picked about 2 or 3 pounds in one day, with about 6-8 figs each week in December. The LSU Purple fig tree has steadily produced more each year since producing only about 2 pounds the first year (after 4 years in the ground).

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What Fig is that?

Two years ago, we obtained cuttings from a friend. This “new” fig has yet to be identified.

Identification takes a bit of detective work. We know that it is an older variety (based on our estimate of the time the first tree was planted, it appears to be from the 1970’s based on the friend’s description—it was an old, established fig tree growing out in a pasture and the first cutting was obtained about 1995.

 

Figs can be identified by a few characteristics:

  • time of the year produced
  • appearance of the “eye” of the fruit
  • color and size of the fruit
  • leaf shape

From this series of photos, we can see (from left to right) Texas Everbearing, LSU Purple, Unknown Fig Variety. These pictures show the leaf shapes and the fruit color and shape.

Our unknown fig tree produced the first fruit after 2 years in the ground, in mid-August. The eye is open , the fig has a flattened round shape with very little neck observed, and when ripe, it has a yellow color with some bronzing if left on the tree after ripened. The leaf shape is more solid throughout the leaf for both the Texas Everbearing and the LSU Purple, While each leaf appears as little more than a little tissue about the leaf veins — for the unknown.

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Unknown Fig Variety

The Open Eye is observed at the bottom of the unknown fruit. This feature makes the fig fruit vulnerable to insects and other pests entering and causing damage. In the Spring, there are more insects than later in the summer and early Fall. Since the fruit is ripening now (mid-August), there are fewer insects around to damage it — although we have had a considerable amount of rain in the last few days, so that is about to change, the insects will return!

Notice the flat rounded shape, the stem (top arrow) with a barely observable neck present, and the open eye (left arrow) that opens into the fruit cavity. Also, the top of the fig is more yellow, and the bottom becomes bronzed over time (this may prevent birds from seeing fruit as most fruit tends to be dark top and bottom when ripe.

Compare the open eye of the Unknown to the moderately closed eye of Texas Everbearing

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Moderately Closed Eye, Texas Everbearing

(LSU Purple has a completely closed eye — no picture.)

 

Two useful resources I found can be downloaded as a pdf from Texas A&M Agrilife, and the other pdf from  Auburn Extension .

According to the Auburn article, this could possibly be an Ira Condit-bred fig, but I’m not certain. This will take a little more investigation to resolve.

The fig flavor reminds me of the figs we used to eat as kids. In our backyard, there was a tree large enough–and with a gently sweeping set of trunks and branches–that we climbed and ate figs, like candy, in late summer … just before returning to school.

 

 

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