What is an unusual fig?


Most unusual fig here may as well be also the most common fig in the northeast US: Mt Etna, for all its especially robust qualities, including ripening time, cold resistance, productivity, aesthetics, reliable fruiting after dieback, first-rate flavor.

And Osborne Prolific for it’s reported genetic difference from Mediterranean figs.

And maybe the agave figs because they can seem like bright syrupy balls of a kind of sweet soft citrus.

Brooklyn White too. There’s something about it. Not the most premier fig, not the most rustic fig, not the most friendly fig though not unfriendly. It’s sneaky good, one of the most appealing if picked at the right time, with an unusual honey-berry blend, as they ripen here.

A case can be made that these figs all have unusual and unusually appealing qualities. There are many interesting and spectacular (and more-or-less redundant) figs. These seem a little more unusual than others here. That said, most varieties have an appealing peculiarity about them, which would tend to define the variety, being the distinction from other varieties that has preserved it through time.

LSU Purple is weird. Wuhan is weird. Lattarula is weird. San Miro Piro is weird. Etc. Weird good. Strangely good. Figs are odd. I’ve always felt that RdB has, somehow, an attitude, as compared to say the more matter of fact Mt Etna, though that may say more about the observer than about the observed. For as shapely as figs are they also almost always seem somewhat misshapen as well. You’re looking at something that seems like one thing and also its opposite. A fig is a delicate fruit with a hole in it, yet it hangs together. That seems unusual in general. Bugs (fig wasps) are supposed to fly into the fruit, and decay in the fruit, to enhance it, or to enable it to ripen in the first place, not to ruin it. Or, as with many figs, no infesting bugs are needed. Figs are odd fruits in general, it seems, and possibly only marginally so by variety.

Violet Sepor is unusual too (photos above).

Lots of fruits are odd though, in a wide variety of ways. I went into the snowy frozen woods late yesterday and picked sweet ripe, bright red, somehow juicy and nutty barberries (apologizing to the birds who eat them all winter). No fig can do that, hang sweet and bright on the bush through frozen months, nor can most other fruits, no matter how unusual. But other fruits like some persimmon and medlar require a freeze to sweeten. Seems unusual, from a certain perspective.

Mt Etna is the most unusual fig here, and the least. It’s the most premier fig here too, and among the least. It’s the most and the least unusual fig I grow.




4 thoughts on “What is an unusual fig?

  1. Really great website. Beautifully written and presented.

    I’ve seen you post elsewhere that these flavor categories can be a useful framework for starting a new collection. It would be a great help if you could expand your examples in each category. (I don’t see a lot of the current favs in there like Black Madiera, Coll de Dama, Socorro, Martineca, Riverside, Pastiliere, etc.)


    1. Thanks. An exhaustive chart would be useful, though I won’t be the one to fill it out. The existing examples of each flavor and pulp group should be indicative, in regard to other figs. So, when you’ve got a very dark skin, very dark pulp fig like Black Madeira or Socorro Black, or Pastiliere, it’s going to be in the punch berry category, with the other figs of very dark skin, very dark pulp. And so on throughout the chart. First match the pulp, then match the skin, or vice versa.

      There are some figs that are borderline cases or that don’t fit easily into any of the ten categories. Sub categories of the 10 could be added or even additional categories. But I’ve found that the current ten categories fit the vast majority of figs very well, while creating very telling comparisons between them. The punch berry category, for various reasons, might be the category most worth breaking down into multiple categories. Again, unlikely to be me to do it.

      Nordland is probably the most awkward fit in its category. And (White) Marseilles is a slight mistake. It should be listed in the adjacent Agave category, rather than in Honey.


  2. I appreciate your enthusiasm. Thanks for the kind words. Maybe let the figs hang longer before picking? They should sweeten up and intensify if not too water-logged. Type of soil or growing medium could have an effect too.


  3. LOVE your site! This is my first attempt at growing figs. I have 6 ‘Chicago’ figs that I am growing in pots. Brought them home in July from garden center. last year with about 100+/- figs set between them all. Enjoyed eating but not as flavorful as I expected. This year they already have almost 200 figs showing (5/22)! Asheville NC location on my balcony. Past winter moved them inside only when frost forecast but returned them immediately outdoors ASAP. Thank you for all the information I’ve gotten from your site.
    A VERY novice fig (attempting) grower


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