“Mountain Figs” is the name I give to robust and relatively hardy varieties of fig trees and bushes, especially varieties with fruit that is early ripening, a crucial feature for areas with short growing seasons. Mountain figs do well growing and fruiting in pots or in ground in short season climates. Some of these types of figs can die back entirely to ground level during harsh winters and regrow well enough the following spring and summer to ripen fruit in late summer or fall. Less hardy figs can grow and fruit well in pots in difficult climates if they are protected during winter in a garage or basement.
Top Mountain Fig Cultivars: Mt Etna, Brooklyn White, LSU Improved Celeste, Ronde de Bordeaux, Florea, LSU Tiger, O’Rourke, Longue d’Aout / Nordland, and others.
MONGIBELLO or MT ETNA FIGS
Some mountain fig types include strains of fig similar to or derived from the fig trees and bushes found growing on the slopes of Mount Etna, Sicily – now grown here in the Appalachian Mountains and around the world. Mt Etna trade names include Hardy Chicago, Takoma Violet, Marseilles Black, Keddie, Gino’s Black, Dark Portuguese, and many others. The fruit (and leaves) of Mongibello fig trees or bushes seem so similar that Mongibello figs are akin to a single cultivar with a number of slightly different strains, where not synonymous. Not all fig varieties that I consider to be mountain figs (robust, hardy, early ripening types) trace back to Mt Etna but originate elsewhere in and around the Mediterranean Sea.
MOUNTAIN FIGS THAT ARE NOT MT ETNA TYPE
I consider all Mt Etna type figs to be mountain figs, but not all mountain figs – or short season figs – are Mt Etna type. More than a few other cultivars have “mountain fig” qualities apart from Mt Etna, including: Brooklyn White, LSU Improved Celeste, Ronde de Bordeaux, Florea, Longue d’Aout, LSU Tiger, O’Rourke and others. Each of these fig varieties may be identified by the differences in their leaves and fruit.