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saxonfig

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Reply with quote  #1 
I've got to thank so many of you folks for suggesting/putting the idea in my head to learn about the fig trees that grow in my local area. I followed up on a lead from another fig tree owner in town and made a discovery about this fellow and his fig trees. This one comes with a really great story.

I apologize in advance because it may be a bit lengthy. Here's how it goes, starting with the lead I followed:

After visiting my wife at her office one day I noticed, not 1/2 block away, a fig tree about 5', growing in someone's yard (this was in late Nov. '09). The tree was right next to the road so I slowed to check it out. Being curious about it I just had to go up to the door to inquire. In so doing I met Mrs. M., a very nice lady. She told me she'd gotten the tree from a local roadside vendor a couple of years ago (I know which vendor it was). It's a dark fig yet to be ID'd.

While talking to her she told me about a small tree she also had in her back yard. She said it was a yellow fig that she rec'd from a local friend. She volunteered the information as to the location of the parent tree. I made a drive-by and located the parent tree.

Now, just this past Wednesday, I paid a visit to the individual who owns the parent tree. After a brief introduction I began to inquire about Mr E's fig trees. Turns out he has one large tree out near the road that's growing in large bush form and one up next to his house that seems to be growing faster and taller. As well as a few rooted suckers growing in has backyard.

Mr E explained to me that his grandfather brought the parent tree with him from Lebanon (the mediterranean) to Cairo, IL sometime between 1895 & 1901!! Apparently his grandfather moved here in 1895 but went back to Lebanon in 1901 to bring his wife over. The details as to just which trip the tree was brought over are still a bit sketchy.

The original tree is apparently still growing in Cairo, IL. Mr E's father brought cuttings/suckers with him from Cairo to Murray, KY more than 30 years ago. He describes the fig as yellowish in color, sweet, and good tasting. I still need to go back to try to find out more accurate details if he has any.

Mr E was more than happy to share some cuttings with me. In fact he wanted to dig up one of the small trees in his back yard to give me. I said cuttings would be more than fine. Although I did end up with two rooted suckers from the large parent tree in the front yard. But to my dismay the roots are infested with RKN. So I simply cut off the roots and kept the cuttings.

To me this is just a fascinating story. To learn of a fig tree that's been in the US for at least 109 years is just awesome stuff! I am definately going to learn as much about this tree as possible. Cairo is only a couple of hours from me, so maybe one day, I'll even get the chance to visit the parent tree! 

Mr E seems to be such a nice guy. The reason he said he was more than happy to share cuttings with me is he "would love to see one of his grandad's fig trees in every yard in town". How cool is that?

As I learn more about this tree, it's fruit, & other qualities I will continue to update this thread.


Here's a teaser for another fig tree I found in Paris, TN:

Paris is only about 12 Mi S. of me so, my son and I took a drive down there yesterday. Naturally, I was scanning around for fig shaped trees. In doing so I spotted one - no wait - make that two of the biggest fig trees I've seen in my area so far! Huge, unkept, bush shaped trees that look as if they have been there for many years.

I plan to go back over there on Monday to ask the owner about them. I'll try to get as many details as possible about that one as well. So, stay tuned for more exciting adventures in fig tree hunting! He He, I love this stuff :-). 




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OttawanZ5

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Reply with quote  #2 
Saxonfig
Good stories like this make it more interesting.
Now I really need a tree that will survive outside in my location of northern Zone 5 so when someone later try to go around to see a fig like tree in Ottawa and come around our area will not be disappointed.
Last year I buried a big pot of Lyndhurst White and a few people stopped and asked about it but then I had to move it inside for winter. Now I feel like keeping a buried potted tree in that location.


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Reply with quote  #3 
Bill I really enjoyed reading that, what a great story and good find. please keep us all posted on your new adventures and the progress of your cuttings. Best of luck on your rootings
Sal

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Reply with quote  #4 
saxonfig, I like this kind of a story.  Figs bring people together, Yes? Also the stories that go along with them are fascinating to me.  Especially when we bring them over from so far away ourselves( myself and a couple other family members)  I hope in 100 years people will have the figs I brought here in their yards, Just hope they keep good track of the names!!!!!!!!:))
Thanks for sharing.  ciao

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Reply with quote  #5 
Nice story indeed , those types are never to lengthy matter of fact too darn short!
Its been said and i believe it ,that a fig tree as it gets older gets somewhat more cold hardy possibly due to its lowest branches getting thicker and able to store more winter antifreeze with time?
The way i figure if say a fig tree is planted in early spring and has a few mild winters to follow it has a good chance of surviving a cold winter perhaps dyeing low to the ground but sprouting up again.
Course this has its limitations in the area it grow in as im sure in some it just will die period.
In Cairo Illinois far southern illinois i can understand how this tree can grow and its great .
Darn it i wish i could grow one here without any protection at all as well.
Thanks for shareing that nice story next time make it longer !!!
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Reply with quote  #6 

Saxonfig, that sounds like a good find. In checking the weather history for Cairo, Il. they indicated it has gotten as low as minus 12 degrees fahrenheit in the last 25 years there. It has also gotten as low as minus 9 degrees fahrenheit several times in the last 21 years. It sounds like it might be a good fig for fig growers in the upper midwest in zones 6 and lower and maybe other northern zone 6 locations, as well. I guess it will all depend on how much heat is needed to get ripe fruit from it. So, I for one, will be waiting to hear how the fruit taste. There are many figs tested to grow outside with and without winter protection. Such as Long Island's zone 7. But, we do indeed need more of us out searching for old fig trees that might be growng in zone 6 through 4. Bob

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Reply with quote  #7 
Bill: There is a fig tree in Oak Ridge, Tennessee from which I want a cutting.  It is the one shown on the Internet as the TENNESSEE MOUNTAIN FIG.

I did some research a year or so back and found that this particular tree is growing on a slope out front of a Veterinarian's office in Oak Ridge.  I called and was told that I was welcome to cuttings, but my circumstances then did not permit me to make the trip.  I have since acquired the Tenn. Mountain Fig from other sources and have sort of put this tree out of my mind.  Still, it would be a nice acquisition if someone who lived near Oak Ridge would get and distribute cuttings from that tree.

http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/photo/1225858717059147931FGlNpQ
The URL above should get you the picture; it was enough for me to find and talk to the owner. 
Ox

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Reply with quote  #8 
Bill,

That's a great story!  I have been trying to track my local figs, but I think I missed everyone who knew anything about them, seems like everyone died a year or two before I got here (~10yrs ago).

One of them is as old as 1930.  Other three are of the same source, and the oldest source I've found is at least 50yrs old, apparently.

How long did it take you to investigate?!

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saxonfig

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Reply with quote  #9 
Ottawan; I believe that Z5 tree will be found eventually. With all the enthusiasim about it, I wouldn't be suprised if nurserymen & universities somewhere are working on something to fill that niche right now.

Sal; I will definately be adding more about this tree and others I find as time goes by.

Maggie; Isn't it these kind of stories that are so often associated with fruits & veggies, that tend to make them heirlooms? If this one's not an heirloom, I don't know what would be. I look forward to trying some of your 'fig cuttings from far away', one of these days too :-).

You got it Diesler. I'll do my best to add some more depth to this one as well. When I go back to visit Mr E again I will try to find out more detail about the circumstances surrounding just how his grandpa brought the tree over. Maybe find out the exact year/month(?). Was it cuttings or a small tree?, etc.

That's an interesting point you bring out about the size of the tree being able to handle lower temps. It's pretty amazing just how hardy these trees really are. Think about it: You grow them successfully and get them to fruit well outside their natural range. And they do this in spite of the fact that we grow them in pots while they're living with diseases such as FMV and RKN! Tough little buggers I'd say!

Hey Bob, You made some good points. I'd say that's what it might take for you guys North of zone 6. Someone's got to be keeping their eyes peeled for that one fig var. that's been growing for years in Winnipeg or some such(wouldn't that be a find!). Thanks for doing the research on the low temps for Cairo, IL too. It definately adds to the depth of info on the parent tree to know that. I wouldn't be suprised if they got near those temps again just a week ago.

Yes, I'm also looking forward to tasting this fig. There were a couple of freeze dried ones on the tree when I was there. I was temted to pluck one and knaw on it but I was afraid the owner would think I was nuts and I didn't want to risk my chances of getting cuttings :-} Ha!

Ox; I'm pretty sure you mean Oakridge, TN. Don't you? That's about five hours southeast of my location. If I'm ever over that way I will definately get back with you to get more details on the TN Mt Fig.

Within in a few days I intend to get photos of both Mr E's tree(s) as well as the ones I saw in Paris that I mentioned in my previos post.

But for now, here are a couple of shots of Mrs M's tree which was the intial lead that started this whole story. One is a wide shot of the whole tree. One is a closer shot of the leaves, and one is just a zoomed in pic of the wide shot mentioned first. The latter two show some of the figs rather well too. If any of you have any guesses as to the variety, please chime in.

I would have loaded these photos sooner on another thread but I've only recently figured out how to resize my pics to get them under 1 MB. I've been using Microsoft Office Picture Manager and it's been doing just fine.
Enjoy!


Attached Images
jpeg 000_2510.jpg (319.02 KB, 289 views)
jpeg 000_2515.jpg (961.94 KB, 246 views)
jpeg 000_2511.jpg (939.10 KB, 202 views)


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satellitehead

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Reply with quote  #10 

Holy cow, look at the size of the leaves on that!  They look like they're larger than four of my hands put together.


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Reply with quote  #11 
Oh my goodness; of course I meant Tennessee.  Would not do a lot of good to look for the Tn Mtn fig in Ky. 

I don't know why the Tennessee people decided to post the picture of this particular fig on the net as the typical TMF, but there it is.
Ox

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Reply with quote  #12 
Bill, would love to hear followups. Perhaps some ripe fig pic's to tempt the taste buds up in polar bear land would be really nice. Thats a great fine & wonderful history. Thanks for sharing. Happy fig hunting.
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Reply with quote  #13 
hello all

this is my first post and i live in east tn and have all of my life.  this spring i have really become interested in figs. a guy i work with has a brown turkey near morristown and brought me a fresh one last year and i swore i would get a tree too. it was wonderful as you guys all know. so i went to lowes and to my surprise they had a black mission fig. i bought it and am pretty sure after some research it will not do very well here in east tn zone 6b. the guy that gave me the fig said his dies to the ground every year but comes back and makes a few figs. so anyway with a lot of searching on the net i found you guys. i chekd out the pics of the fig in oak ridge and thought i would try and find that one. i only live about an hour and a half away!! i am always up for an adventure and this sounds too fun to miss. so anyway if somebody could email or private msg me as to the exact location of that tree i will go check it out and trade some cuttings for some 6b hardy cuttings or something else. anyway we can figure something out. thanks guys and i look forward to hearin from yall. later

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Reply with quote  #14 
Bill, I enjoyed the story--thanks for posting. You found a couple interesting varieties. Your luck is better than mine---a local Lebanese heart surgeon, now retired tore down his wooden backyard fence that had been there for years. To my amazement, there were two large fig trees back there in an unkept area. Imagine my excitement wondering for weeks whether he had brought trees from Lebanon. I went by his house for days and finally found a  yardman working. He told me to take what I wanted, but wanted to talk to Dr. A, before I went to the trouble.(Don't need anymore Celeste or BT trees). Well after a weeks of trying, I ran into him at Walmart of all places. To my great dismay, found out that they were Celeste & BT:-(((( The hunt continues...
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saxonfig

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Reply with quote  #15 
Well, I'm glad you dragged this post out and dusted it off twraman. I've been needing to get on here and make some updates as well as corrections about the Lebanese Yellow fig I found out here in west KY.

First, I've gotten a more accurate time frame as to when this fig was actually brought into the US. This was most likely in the year 1914. After speaking to Mr Elias at some length about the two trees in his yard here in Murray, KY I actually got some pretty detalied geneological information on his grandfather (the person originally responsible for bringing this tree to Cairo, IL).

Mr Elias's grandfather's full name was originally Saleem Elias Haikel. Mr Haikel came to the US in from Bteghrine, Lebanon 1898 not 1895 (another correction) at just age 16. He later simplified his name to Sam Elias. He returned to Lebanon in 1914 for an extended 7 month stay. It is estimated by his grandson that this was the time when he came back with the fig tree. So this would still be 96 years that this particular fig tree has been in the US. I know for certain that some part of this tree has been growing in Cairo, IL for this entire time (more on that later).

The original tree that was on the property of Mr Haikel/Elias since 1914 was destroyed sometime in the 70's when the house was torn down.

I had gotten my hopes up when Mr Elias (the grandson) told me that there were still 3 of these trees on his dad's property in Cairo and had been growing there for at least 50 years. He also told me that their old house was currently unoccupied. So I made the 2 hour round trip to Cairo in hopes of obtaining some photos and possibly some cuttings. After arriving at the correct address, I was able to determine that all 3 trees had been removed :-( . Rats!

Still, I obtained a few cuttings of this tree from Mr Elias in Murray and have them under propagation at this time. I hope I'm successfull at making a tree or two out of them. I've found them to NOT be the easiest ctgs to root. They seem to have the tendency to send out buds well in advance of the roots. But at least I do have 2 maybe 3 that are looking pretty good with both roots and leaflets.

I'm going to stop here for now. I have quite a bit more to add on the story of this fig tree. Some details will be of interest to many of you. And it won't end even there because I intend to follow up on the progress of Mr Elias's trees with photos and descriptions of the tree as well as the fruit, as the season progresses.

One thing I want to point out before I finish up this post. I have been calling this fig variety the Haikel Lebanese yellow fig in honor of Mr Saleem Elias Haikel's original last name. Seems fitting since he brought this fig to the US so many decades ago. His grandson seemed to be quite pleased with my choice as well. He also seemed to feel it was somehow respectful of his grandad. So, unless someone is able to find that this fig has been named already, or to find it's original Arabic/Syrian/Lebanese name, it is respectfully dubbed Haikel Lebanese.

-Bill   


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Bass

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Reply with quote  #16 

I can try to identify the correct local Lebanese name once I see the fruit. Bteghrine is a village located in the higher elevations in mount Lebanon, where it snows all winter. So it's more cold hardy than the varieties found along the coastline.


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jenia

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Reply with quote  #17 
Snows all winter?  Sign me up on the waiting list.  What hardiness zone, Bass?

C.J.

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Reply with quote  #18 
Well, as I often do, didn't realize this was an older post, lol. Guess I missed it the first time. Bill, thanks for the additional story line. Great stories makes figs fun.
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saxonfig

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Reply with quote  #19 
Bass: It's great that you have this first-hand experience from having lived in Lebanon. It would really be something if this fig turned out to be one of the few "unknown" varieties that becomes a "known" one. Thanks for the confirmation about Bteghrine being at a higher elevation. A fig tree that takes cold and snow all winter - now we're getting somewhere ;-) !

Check out this website with many beautiful photos of Bteghrine: http://www.bteghrine.com/pictures.htm   Scroll down the page and click on the snow pics at the bottom left.

Texan: I'm glad you've enjoyed this fig tree story. I think it's pretty amazing that I just happened to find one of the grandsons who has kept alot of info about his grandad. Much of that info is quite detailed too. Mr Haikel and one of his brothers ran "Elais Bros." produce in Cairo for many years.

There are a few of you out there that have received cuttings from this tree. I hope you have great success in getting them started. Many thanks for the trades btw. I ended up with some great varieties that I might not have had for some time. I only wish I had more to go around. Maybe next Nov.
;-) . 

It will be interesting to see how this tree does in different areas. Especially for those of you in warmer climates. Mr Elias said that some of his family grows this tree in southern TN (zone 7). He indicated that it grows much larger and "more like a tree" down there.

Here is a photo I took of one of these trees this winter. This is one that Mr Elias gave to a local doctor and he planted it 10+ yrears ago behind his office:




Attached Images
jpeg Haikel_Fig_Tree_Behind_Doctor's_Office.jpg (337.48 KB, 132 views)


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Italiangirl74

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Reply with quote  #20 
Saxonfig,

God Bless to you for keeping this very family heirloom fig going and what respect to show for the man that brought it here to America. I would hope that it is respected as such.  I love when these types of figs come with a very nice and interesting history, even such information as to its natural home and habitat from Leb in which it came.  Now it has a new lease on life thanks to you and I am soo glad you shared this very interesting story here.   much Thanks. 
Ciao

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Reply with quote  #21 
Lei e' Benvenuto Maggie.

I think I have a few minutes to add a little more on this.

So, the trees had been removed from the first two places I'd hoped they would still be -the Haikel's old home place and the house Mr Elias grew up in. After striking out on those two, I decided to drive around some of the old neighborhoods while in Cairo.

To my pleasant suprise I noticed two large fig "bushes" growing behind an older house. As I slowed to get a better look, a gentleman came out onto the front porch. I couldn't resist stopping to inquire about the trees. The fella, who must have been in his 50's, replied with a strong stammer, that I'd have to ask "her" about the fig trees. I asked when I might find her home and he said she should be home for lunch any minute.

So after taking a short drive, I returned to find a car in the drive that hadn't been there before. I knocked on the door but no one answered. I figured maybe they didn't want to be bothered during lunch, which is understandable. I made note of the name that was over the mailbox  and decided to return to the KY side of the river.

A couple days after returning from my visit to Cairo, I spoke to Mr Elias. I asked if he happened to know any folks in Cairo with the last name I'd seen on the mailbox at the old house. Just so happens that he knew exactly who they were and they are, in fact, of Lebanese decent. He even rememered the fella with the stammer but couldn't recall his name at the time.

He assured me that the trees behind that old house are the exact same tree type that his grandfather brought from Bteghrine. Apparently cuttings and or division of this tree had been shared with a number of others within the Syrian community.

As the wheather warms up, I'm starting to get anxious for seeing these trees fully leafed out and with fruit! I have an open invitation from Mr E to come sample the fruit when they're ripe. Can hardly wait :-) !

For Mr Elias's kind sharing and assistance, I've promised to give him a couple other varieties of cold hardy figs for his yard. Maybe HC & Marsielles Black. Maybe even another local variety that I've come accross.

BTW Maggie, I don't speak Itilian. I cheated and used an on-line translator. So if I didn't get it quite right you can blame it on the translator :-} .     

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Dieseler

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Reply with quote  #22 
Hey Bill,
could no help notice you mention
The fella, who must have been in his 50's.

I laughed heck that could have been me ! Course im sure most here now know what my mug looks like.
Anyways thats a nice journey you are on and im sure you will continue it later this season and please post more about what happens its nice to read.
Italiangirl74

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Reply with quote  #23 
Saxonfig, 

Don't worry, my Italian is rough and being born there, its funny. I have aquired a unique mix when I speak day to day. I speak some proper Italian,Alot of Abruzzesi dialect, Italian slang, Italian-American slang, and American Slang, American English and British English. This is all wrapped up in one!!!!!! I'm surprised anyone in Italy or America can understand me.  Those translaters are funny because they don't give a great translation, sometimes we don't have a word for everything in Italy and it comes up with something not even close.  STill can get by though, I just like to punch in words to see what it will say if it is a good translation or not. 

ciao 

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Maggie Maria zone 7
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Reply with quote  #24 
I'm completely fignorant about figs, but I've been exploring all the vatious wild fruits,
nuts and other edible vegetable matter on the property I've owned since 1997 in TN.
Among other things (persimmons, black walnuts, hickory nuts, chickasaw plums,
sassafras trees, catalpa trees, etc.,) I've discovered several wild fig trees.

Not knowing it was a fig early on, and growing near the entrance to my tractor shed,
I had cut one of them down.  But it has grown back and is already about 15 feet
tall.  I've never really looked/seen any fruits growing on any of the fig trees, and I still
haven't even really looked that well for how many there might be around here.
I know that there are at least 2 in different areas of the property (55 acres).

As I was reading all you guy's enthusiasm and desire to find real-live TN Mountain
Fig trees (on this forum and others), and I figured they must be hard to find.  So I
thought I'd let people know I have some (I think).  I know that the previous owner
of the property did not plant them, and am pretty sure they weren't planted there
prior to him either, by previous owners.  They are located in "random" locations
far away from previous buildings that had been on the property.

I'm located in TN due south of Nashville about 8 miles north of the TN/AL line
(Zone 7/8 border) in a rather remote, secluded valley on the Elk River that gets a
moistening from fog most every night.  I guess that's why the figs like it here. 
I know that since I've been here alone, they've survived below 0F temps, 
consecutive weeks of 'teen temps, ice storms and draughts with no problems.

I plan to hike around soon, specifically to search for fig trees, and check to
see if any of them have fruits growing...That would be very cool if they do, as I've
never tasted a fresh fig in 50 years on this earth.

I'm not too much for mailing/sending things (ie: I have hardly sent even a letter in my
life), so if anyone "wants a piece of" a TN Mountain Fig, I'd not have a problem
with folks getting cuttings, if it wouldn't endanger the tree.  How do you take
cuttings on a fig, and how do you propagate from them?

Anyway, I hope this is a proper place to post this.  Please excuse me if it isn't as
I don't know anything about this forum (if you can't tell)  :)  I realized this post is
focused on the lebanese fig from cairo (il), but someone also mentioned the
TN mountain fig in Knoxville...and anyway...I'm originally from Lebanon....Ohio.  :)

Thanks.

joeelias

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Reply with quote  #25 
Digging up an old post here, but I wanted to just interject that I am ever-so-familiar with those specific trees and the family - because I am one of them! I grew up in the house next to the one you searched in Cairo with my parents. My grandfather, Sam, and his wife, Martha, lived in that house for many wonderful years. I assume that Mr. E in your story is my uncle. I sent you a PM to try to catch up with you. What a wonderful story!
saramc

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Reply with quote  #26 

@joeeilias...how bizarre!  Please tell us you happen to also have these fig trees??  


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Reply with quote  #27 
wow...unbelievable..just finnished reading the whole thread. love this story...then joeelias adds to the story. by the way..hey joe..welcome to figs4fun..i may be new to figs..but i can see how they become part of your family and life..thanks for the story saxonfig..great read..good health
                                                                                         luke
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Reply with quote  #28 
Welcome to the forum Joe. It's great that you were able to add to the story and catch up with Bill, how unusual.
"gene"


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Reply with quote  #29 
A huge welcome to the forum Joe! I hope you enjoy the forum and stick around awhile ;) . 

I was very suprised to get a PM from you. Maybe I shouldn't be too suprised though since I've learned that the Elias's are part of a very large family. Guessing that somebody in the family was bound to find this forum eventually :-) !

You're uncle has told me about how family members have carried this fig tree to various parts of the country with them. I spoke with him on Monday and he again mentioned how one family member grows this one in southern Arkansas and it grows to "tree size" in the slightly warmer climate.

He has also shared this tree with a few other folks around the Murray area. While I was visiting him on Monday, a local doctor stopped by to see if he had a few figs to spare for making fig jam. This doctor also has this tree but I guess he was planning to make alot of fig jam :) . Of course your uncle D didn't hesitate to share figs with him.

Here are a few that he shared with me a couple weeks ago. They tasted even better than last year. Very good figs! Now that I've tasted a few other varieties to compare these to, these are still my favorite so far.  


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jpeg Haikel_Figs_(3).jpg (519.62 KB, 115 views)
jpeg Haikel_Figs_(4).jpg (909.72 KB, 129 views)


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Fig Well And Prosper!

Bill - SW KY. Zone 6b. 36.5N 
I'm fruitnut on ebay.

saxonfig

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Reply with quote  #30 

Guess the vanishing photo thing is still here. When I checked this thread I didn't see the pics in my previous post. Hope they can be seen now.


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Fig Well And Prosper!

Bill - SW KY. Zone 6b. 36.5N 
I'm fruitnut on ebay.
texascockatoos

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Reply with quote  #31 
I can see that wonderful pile of figs. Great picture.
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Cathy
Central, Texas (Zone 8A)

http://www.texascockatoos.com
saxonfig

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Reply with quote  #32 
Hey Alan,

The fruit look very similar. The leaves seem to deviate just a bit but it could still be the same tree or very closely related.

The fruit that were shared with me this summer from the Haikel tree were so good. Very sweet with alot of flavor. They had some richness to them as well.

My tree produced several fruit but they were too late. Looking forward to picking some of these from my own tree next season.

The flavor seems to be complex and a little hard to describe. Very tastey, sweet, juicey, but not watery. They sometimes reminded me of the flavor of peaches but not every fruit was the same. The flavor also reminds me of another fruit that I just can't yet place. Simply put......they were real good :-).

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Fig Well And Prosper!

Bill - SW KY. Zone 6b. 36.5N 
I'm fruitnut on ebay.
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