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Ingevald

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Getting descriptive information on various figs is a real task at times.    Both identification and accessible descriptions/history are one of the larger problems that I have experienced as I have dealt with figs.   Big forum topics revolve around soils, propagation, sharing photos, finding cuttings, identification issues and inquiries about characteristics of various varieties.

        There are probably 30 or so figs that are commonly found in the trade (my rough estimate). I think that these are ones that are consistently and reliably identified and have reasonable historic information associated with them.   Beyond that, it seems there are a tremendous number of ethnic figs, less known distinct varieties, found figs, unknowns, incorrectly named varieties, and ones with new made-up names that makes our task even more complicated.   Matching the names to known names and getting descriptions, history, etc., is problematic.  

      The following categories seem appropriate to describe the situation and our dilemma. 

1)    Recent hybrids - Some figs that were hybridized within the past 100 years or so have stable names and can be sorted out.   We know where those figs started and the 'original' name since a record usually exists somewhere.  There may be some challenges finding the actual breeding parents though.  Examples are LSU Purple, Conadria, Tena, Enderud, Hunt, etc.

2)    Found in the wild - Figs that were found growing in a field somewhere also have a history.  It is very likely that we can know who found it, where it originated, when it was found, the name given to the fig, etc. Of course most of our figs probably originated this way!  Some relatively recent examples:  Danny's Delight, Beall, Jack's Quarter Pounder, Norman's Yellow, etc.

3)    Ancient known figs -  Some ancient figs include Dottato, Sari Lop, Mission/Franciscana, Negrone, Verte, etc. These likely have stable names and a reliable history because they are such good figs. They are also unique and distinct from others.    

4)   Distinct variety names in the literature,  from collectors, nurseries or the germplasm repository  -   Tracking where these and most figs originated is difficult since some are very old and have been around for centuries.   In this particular situation there is a dead end of origination knowledge somewhat quickly although the names are fairly stable.    These are solid good varieties, but one does wonder where they originated.  Figs in this category are ones like Barnisotte, Col de Dame, Dauphine, Ronde de Bordeaux, Kala Heera,  etc.    Of course these figs are also known by other names.

5)    Ethnic names -  Some of our best figs fall in this category, but what is the varietal name that it might also be known by?   How can we establish what is a valid name?    Interesting thoughts to ponder -    These are the figs that take on new names because of who brought it over, where the fig was most recently found, where it may have come from in the old country, etc.   The trail goes cold rather quickly, usually going as far as someone's grandparent who brought it over or no trail at all since you just got it from a neighbor's yard.    Examples are Hardy Chicago, Sal's #1, Long Island Green, Bella, Maryland Brown Turkey, Black Italian, etc.   It would be great to match them up with figs that are described in the literature, or to find their 'other' more common name.

6)     Incorrect names -   We are all frustrated by this problem.    Some nurseries have caused problems by making up a new more 'marketable' name which then almost completely eliminates the possibility of figuring out a fig's history.   Catalogue descriptions are sometimes also jazzed up with incorrect information.   Some collectors have also made mistakes that include variety mix ups, name misspellings, etc.   Some examples are -  Petite Negri aka Violet Bordeaux,  Stella (not sure, might be Adriatic), Nero Caesar,  Coconut Chiquita aka Chico Malibu (and even that is likely not the 'original' name), etc.

7)   Unknown figs & names - These are usually figs that are found in someone's yard or a fig in which the name has been forgotten.  When unknown figs (related to #6 and #5 above) are traded, they usually get assigned a new name, and sometimes that name persists for better or worse.  A new ‘temporary’ name is good because one can track the fig back to its name originator, hopefully getting it identified someday.   It is bad because it complicates matters adding 'another' fig to the mix - another fig which might be the same as something else you have collected, etc.  If the history of that exchange gets lost, then we are back to square one. If a good fig is found, it does need a name - the history somehow needs to be kept somewhere.    Examples:  Pananas Greek (now determined to be a Brown Turkey), Old Home 1895, Takoma Violet, Kathleen's Black, Lindhurst White, etc. 

8)  Multiple names, different figs - Similar to other problems, this is when one name is used to describe more than one fig.  This can be confusing when you think that you have one particular fig but discover that you have something else with a similar name, etc.  Examples are Paradiso, Everbearing, Lattarula, Lemon, Petite Negri, etc.

9)   A name but what is it?  - Again related to problems mentioned above. These are figs in which little if anything at all is written about them. What are these figs, who found them and where did they come from?   Again, tracking the origins of these is difficult and the trail gets cold quickly.   Examples, Armenian, Shar Amber, the numbered figs from UCDavis, Atreano, etc. 

10)  Multiple names - This is a very confusing situation when one fig ends up taking on a pile of different names, again related to issues above, particularly #8.   Examples:  a)  Brunswick, aka Dalmatian, Madonna, Magnolia, etc  b) Celeste, aka Blue Celeste, Honey fig, Improved Blue celeste, Malta, Tennesse Mtn fig, Sugar fig   c) Calimyrna aka Sari Lop.  d)  etc!

11)  What is an original name? - This is a complex topic for discussion.    Likely, it is the name that was attached to the variety at the earliest point in time that is possible.  How is this determined considering that so much time has passed since some of these figs were first cultivated? Look at Dattato for example, a fig we more commonly know as Kadota.   There are some 20 different names that this fig has gone by according to Condit's Monograph and I am sure more names have been invented since his writings.   

12) A new naming system?   Is there a better way to name figs?   Not sure.   I like the variety of names, some of which are exotic sounding.   It is hard to imagine reducing them to a number or something similar.    Fig names in France and Italy seem be more descriptive.  Descriptive words there might include an original location, color, size, etc.   Some thoughtful consideration could be applied to this issue.   So, do we use the name Franciscan or Mission?      

13) Local Names - This is a complex issue related to #10 and other issues outlined above. Some figs for example, grown in the various Mediterranean countries may be the same varieties but have different names. The names within those countries may also vary from region to region. Some of these varieties have been cross referenced by researchers, but it adds to the difficulties of unifying which varieties are which. For example the well researched document (mentioned below) that describes figs from Mallorca, lists 44 figs. A fine attempt to list synonyms is made but is likely not comprehensive, including all known names. Example: Synonyms for the Mallorcan fig Bordissot Blanca are Burdasciotta, Bourgeassotte, de Fraga, and Blanca.


My wish is for a comprehensive database to be developed whereby folks could work through a systematic key to narrow down, for example, a better identity for ethnic figs, etc.   Having a database that has various characteristics that can be searched would be very useful for identification purposes. Included in such a database would also be a good quality photographic collection that includes foliage samples and fruit - inside and out, ripe and unripe. Additionally I think it would be useful and interesting to include some of the ethnic stories associated with particular figs.

I have listed some resources and studies below that outline various useful descriptive terms that should be included in the searchable database. Using consistent descriptors is also essential - for example, settling on acceptable color names so that if one is searching for a light green fig, it does not get missed because the color was keyed in as white. It could be noted that there is variation as is necessary to describe it. Descriptions might also be categorized both as ‘general’ descriptions and more detailed.

       Local climate and soil issues further complicate identification, leading to local variation. A fig will perform as well as the environment you provide for it  I don’t think environmental variations should be a serious limiting factor for such a database.  

Of course, DNA analysis is the ultimate tool in sorting things out, but cost is prohibitive.    Someday this may become feasible, but for now we should rely on descriptions that have developed over the past century.  There has been some good progress on this but multiple resources still must be reviewed, and that takes time and some familiarity with the scientific descriptions, etc.  The following are some useful resources on this topic:

1)  Jon at Figs for Fun has developed a good site http://figs4fun.com/ with nice photos and basic descriptions for some of the figs, drawing on descriptions written by others.

2)  Rays Givan's site is also very useful http://home.planters.net/~thegivans/ - nice descriptions, some photos and personal analysis.  He makes an attempt to help us describe figs properly.

3)   Fig Varieties, A Monograph by Ira Condit - excellent resource, but no photos. http://californiaagriculture.ucop.edu/0702AMJ/pdfs/FigMonographHilgardia.pdf  
 
4)  Caracterització de cultivars de figuera a Mallorca by Josep Rosselló i Botey, (71.3 MB PDF),   http://www.caib.es/sacmicrofront/archivopub.do?ctrl=CNTSP760ZI5190&id=5190   This is an enormous file - so plan ahead if you would like to download it.  I really like the way the descriptions are organized, etc.  It is very systematic and has excellent photographs.   It is in Catalan - no English, you can cut out paragraphs and paste them into the Google Translator.
 
5) Bob (Kiwibob) made a proposal a few years ago to create a photo database that we would all have access to use. Having a good photo of the fruit, inside and out and the leaf shapes for as many figs as possible was the goal. I think that he was also interested in collecting photos from others to make this database work. He approached some of the most knowledgeable folks who declined to collaborate for various reasons.   http://www.geocities.com/kiwibobg/kiwifruitsalad3  

6) Fig Characteristics Useful in the Identification of Varieties by Ira J. Condit in Hilgardia, A Journal of Agricultural Science published by the California Agricultural Experiment Station. 14; 1 (May 1941) This is an excellent resource.

7) Problems Identifying Fig Varieties by Alex Hart http://www.wanatca.org.au/acotanc/Papers/Hart-1/index.htm

8) European Minor Fruit Tree Species Database from Università degli Studi di Firenze http://www.unifi.it/project/ueresgen29/netdbase/s1/dbs1.htm and the actual description key http://www.unifi.it/project/ueresgen29/netdbase/s1/dls1.htm

9) Descriptors for Fig from IPGRI and CIHEAM - Biodiversity International. 2003 International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy, and International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies, Paris, France. http://www.bioversityinternational.org/fileadmin/bioversity/publications/pdfs/907.pdf I had trouble downloading it and got it directly from their web guru. It is a very good checklist. (I could send it if you can’t get it downloaded)

10) The Fig - Its History, Culture and Curing with a Descriptive Catalogue of the Known Varieties of Figs by G Eisen from. U.S. Department of Agriculture Division of Pomology. Bulletin #9 . 1901. 317 pages. http://books.google.com/books?id=7dZBAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA181&lpg=PA181&dq=%22the+fig+its+history%22+eisen&source=web&ots=w1kBN09HCH&sig=pGPCB0oUq28qxF0TCxv4KCMhdM0#PPA5,M1

11) http://www.ficuscarica.com - I almost forgot to include this new resource.

An example of a very good publication is a book produced in Canada called ‘Our Plums’ by Shahrokh Khanizadeh and Johanne Cousineau. http://www.pgris.com/book-poster/plum-book/description.asp You can see a sample page here http://www.pgris.com/book-poster/plum-book/pdf-file/sample-plum.pdf I think that this is a fine example of what could be done for figs sometime in the future, although with the great number of varieties, it might be prudent to limit what is published in a book and put the rest on an online database.

     In conclusion, I wish some of these resources were combined so that our figs could be sorted out more easily.   To complete such a project someone or organization needs some multi-year funding to do the job well.  Despite some frustrations with names, I don't have too much to complain about.   If I get a highly recommended fig from a collector, I am happy no matter what its name is. A fine tasting fig, a family fig, etc., is a good fig no matter what the name.

Ingevald

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Reply with quote  #2 

Welcome to the "Fun" part of figs!!!

Short of DNA testing every tree, they cannot be sorted. Oh, wait, that doesn't work either. I have about 2 dozen Celeste trees from different sources. Many of them have been DNA tested at USDA, and are identical. But they do NOT look, behave, grow, taste the same in my orchard - similar to some extent, yes, identical, NO.

I have trees (White Texas Eveerbearing, for example) that can be Honey colored (with corresponding taste) and Strawberry colored (with corresponding taste) depending on the year, or in different parts of the particular season that they ripen.

See http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/figs4funforum/vpost?id=2914676 Those two figs are from the same tree on the same day, and both ripe. Enjoy trying to categorize that one. ;-))

At some point you learn to just accept them and enjoy them.








http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/figs4funforum/vpost?id=2914676

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Well thought out characterization of the problem. I bet it will strike up some significant dialog to keep us all going through the winter months while we wait for our figs to sprout in spring.

Some of my thoughts rather briefly ...

I share your desire for a better way to determine varieties and identify origins. For my Bella - Unknown, I did as much digging in the family collective history as I could. I was very frustrated that for a fig that is so much a part of the immigrant Italian culture that no one in the family dug deeper into its origin. As in your example below, Bella's history fizzles out with my grandmother or great-grandfather.

I agree that all the names are interesting and fun but the large number makes it difficult in locating figs that one would like to cultivate. We need a means to reduce this set to a more manageable size. I would think that only through DNA analysis this would be possible with any certainty. It would also tell us how closely related some strains are for proper classification. Not knowing the cost of such an endeavor, I can only guess it would be expensive and since figs are not a major revenue-producing crop in the US a large enough
grant is unlikely.

This leaves us with our only "cost-effective" way of classifying - by physical characteristics and simple chemical analysis techniques. But as you noted - local conditions of climate, soil and culture yield a variety of physical differences even in the same plant. So this may be a flawed methodology.

No obvious near-term solution to the problem is apparent. I will be interested in seeing everyone else's perspective.

BTW, after everyone has kicked this around, I think you should submit your "white paper" as an article in a gardening journal. There will be many folks that find this topic of interest.

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gorgi

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Reply with quote  #4 
A quite while ago, somebody on a FF did post a 'very-rigid-scientific' document
of  how to-come-about-naming-them-figs ... I lost track of it ...
that person  (you know who are), please speak up.

On the other hand, I agree with Jon; aka, at least for the moment,
(as long as it is a GOOD fig) just enjoy/eat whatever-you-got...

Edit: Yeah, we all know that the grass on the other side must be greener..
(aka, better known as the in/famous FIG bug!)

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SteveNJ

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Reply with quote  #5 

I do share the perspective that we can enjoy figs regardless of their lineage. But, it would be nice to have a rigorous classification databse as a reference. The history of the trees is part of the fun of figs!


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Reply with quote  #6 
Wouldn't that be nice for everybody, if all that info is available by just snapping
one's fingers!

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Reply with quote  #7 
I thing I managed to find that file...
by IPGRI
FigDescriptors.pdf
(expect to do some self head/hair scratching here too)

 
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pdf FigDescriptors.pdf (367.37 KB, 112 views)


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Ingevald

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Reply with quote  #8 
Hello,
I forgot to mention a really great web site - http://www.rogersroses.com/gallery/rosechooser.asp On this search page you can type in a variety of characteristics and then get a smaller list of possible choices with pictures. Wouldn't that be awesome for fig research? It would be a ton of work, but someday one of us might accomplish that goal. I found this rose site very useful when I was researching unknown varieties. At least it got me in the ball park although there are difficulties identifying roses!

Thanks for the responses to my posting. I appreciate hearing from folks on this topic.

Ingevald

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Reply with quote  #9 
Here is another wrinkle: These are two figs that should be identical. The larger one was grown from a cutting of the smaller. But the larger on has different leaves that the parent. The parnet exhibits a small percentage of these different leaves, and the progeny has very, very occasionally exhibited leaves like the parent. The progency is consistently 2x larger, or more, by volume that the parent, and exhibits a different texture and interior "pattern". Again, they should be indentical, but...





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Reply with quote  #10 
here is a copy of my post of GW with a possible explanation for the variation Jon sees in those two plants?

"If a tree has been propagated from cuttings, then they are clones so the DNA should be identical. This does not mean (a) that genetic anomolies can not occur, and (b) that the plants would remain identical. Take the case of identical twins: They are genetically identical and began from the same single cell but they often express different physical characteristics over time (environmentally influenced?) - this is the great nature vs. nurture debate - meaning is it nature (genetics) or environment (nurture) that make an individual what they are. So, it is not surprising that figs would cultivate differently in different environments, climates, etc. Since figs are propagated by cuttings for many years (centuries?)and genetic anomalies are a matter of probability (more cell splitting, for a longer time, increases the chance that an anomoly will happen)changes will happen. Some genetic changes will have physical expressions (fruit, leaves, etc)and if that change is present in a cutting tip then the change will be in the new plant. Over time this could lead to the cuttings and its propogations to differ more and more from the "parent"."

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Ingevald,

 

I have read through some of the reference material in your original post. In particular:

 

Descriptors for Fig from IPGRI and CIHEAM - Biodiversity International. 2003 International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy, and International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies, Paris, France. http://www.bioversityinternational.org/fileadmin/bioversity/publications/pdfs/907.pdf

 

I think this is a great methodology for describing figs. They suggest in the Annex to use at least the following to describe figs:

 

7.1.2     Crop setting fruit

7.1.4     Full maturity

7.1.5     Harvest period

7.1.6     Pollination requirement for fruit set

7.2.3.1 Apical dominancy

7.2.13   Rooting ability of the cuttings

7.3.2     Leaf shape

7.4.1     Fruit shape [index (width/length)= I]

7.4.2     Fruit shape according to the location of the maximum width

7.4.3     Fruit apex shape

7.4.5     Fruit weight [g]

7.4.11   Ostiole width [mm]

7.4.19   Ease of peeling

7.4.21   Fruit skin cracks

7.4.22   Resistance to ostiole-end cracks

7.4.23   Fruit flesh thickness [mm]

7.4.26   Fruit skin ground colour

7.4.32   Pulp internal colour

7.4.35   Fruit cavity

7.4.39   Total soluble solids [%]

7.4.41   Number of dried fruits per kilogram

7.5.1     Crops setting fruit

7.5.3     Profichi fruit yield

7.5.6     Profichi: amount of gall flowers

7.5.12   Profichi: amount of male flowers

7.5.15   Profichi: pollen maturation

7.5.17   Mamme: date of Blastophaga’s exit

7.5.18   Profichi: date of Blastophaga’s exit

8.2        Cropping efficiency

8.4        Breba: regularity of production

8.6        Estimated yield per tree [kg]

 

These 31 attributes are easily manageable. The 7.5 series are specifically for caprifigs so that cuts the list to 24 items to record for each accession. For each of these descriptors there is an explanation of the values to assign and on most a decent explanation of what the values represent. On some there needs better explanations. But the point is could each of the willing collectors in this forum and others volunteer to use this methodology to describe their figs? This could be a grass roots effort and might be accomplished over a few seasons. Now my collection is small and young so it is not such a big task for me but I would think there are some folks that might want to participate in this. We could communicate our results via the forum or a dedicated website and fill in the blanks as information is known. We could agree on the “rules” to be used for each descriptor so that everyone is using the same standard. As information builds, we would find out a lot of good information on the variations created by different environments and have some data to discuss similarities and differences in plants.

 

Any thoughts or interest by anyone? Alternate suggestions?

 
Attached Files
pdf 907[1].pdf (367.37 KB, 56 views)


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Reply with quote  #12 
Jon, im just curious as to how old parent and the sibling are. Also do you recall if the cutting was from top or bottom of parent tree.

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Reply with quote  #13 
The Parent is 20+ and the progeny is 3-1/2. The progeny is also much more vigorous growing, but that may just be youthfulness, at this point. No clue where the cutting was taken from, although it was most likely a tip cutting from the top of the tree. I should have so much time as to keep track of that kind of detail. ;-))

As for the descriptors, on any given tree at some point in the season I can find a fig that would describe completely different that some other fruit from the same tree. Just look through all the different "identical" Celestes and their pix, and even within each individual one. Trying to identify consistent differences in their characterisitcs as part of the DNA testing at USDA has been near impossible. There are penty of differences, but establishing consistency is a whole different animal.

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Jon,
Yes there is often variation in a given tree. But if measurements are done statistically (large sample of measurements) the central tendency will emerge. Since you have by far more experience with figs then I do, what has been your observations - do these variations show up occasionally or are they present all the time? By that I mean (exaggerating) is half a tree light fruit with 5 lobed leaves and the other half dark fruit with 3 lobes - OR - is a tree mainly dark with 3 lobes and occasionally produces one with light / 5 lobes? If it is the latter, then statistically significant data samples from each descriptor will shake out these outlier characteristics. 

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Ingevald

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Steve,
Thanks for looking through the reference material that I posted. The methodology that you pulled from the IPGRI document is sensible and might be a very good way to describe figs, catching many of the characteristics that can adequately describe a fig. Using consistent descriptors might make it possible to build up a searchable and organized database similar to what Rogers Roses has done. I also like the format and presentation that is on the Mallorca document (sorry that it is such a huge document which may make it difficult for some of us to view).

Making fresh observations, collecting the data, etc, to make the ideal searchable database is another issue - not one to be resolved at this time. That is something that will have to be worked out in the future. We do have some resources that work right now, including the expertise from folks on this and the GW forum, some good websites and other reliable materials.

Everyone,
Thanks so much for your very thoughtful discussion on this and related topics. I have greatly appreciated the discussion on DNA related issues. I am learning about these issues as I go. Thanks to Steve and others for their observations and technical expertise.

I find it very interesting to hear about the variations that has been observed by some of you. Figs are amazing and perplexing plants at times.

Speaking of variation - I think that it was 'Herman' that may have posted an experience with a young rooted cutting that showed mosaic on its upper leaves. He noticed that a new shoot was forming near the soil level - and noticed that this new shoot did not have visible signs of mosaic. He cut off the upper stem and let the new shoot grow - so far, no mosaic. I also had the same experience this past summer. Not entirely related to the DNA discussions, but an interesting lesson.

Sincerely yours,
Ingevald
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With regard to variation, when we were at USDA/UC Davis this summer, we took pix of leaves on all the trees, and you have to sort through a lot of leaves on many trees to find what is the most typical shape for that tree. Some trees every leaf is identical, but many have a wide variation. If you have one-lobed leaves and three lobed leaves and 5-lobed leaves on the same tree, is 5-lobes the typical or proper leaf, and all the rest are under- or mal-formed? Is that just the natural variation for that cultivar? As I have watched leaves this season I have wondered if, maybe, all trees were really 7-lobed but not all leaves fully form. But then there are several styles of 7-lobed leaves...    My Vista has some one-lobed leaves, most are 3-lobed, but there are a significant portion that are 5-lobed, and many of the 3-lobed have 2 rudimentary lobes, as if the should have been 5-lobed. Different years make for different balances, so environment has some affect.  I would bet that I could take a one-lobed leaf off of 40-50% of my trees, regardless of what their dominant leaf pattern is.

Here is my Raspberry Latte: If you look carefully, and follow the leaves up the branch, you will see that the early leaves were deeply sculpted  7-lobed leaves, and the later leaves were 1-lobed, or have 5 barely defined lobes. The one branch you see was 7-lobed for half a season and changed to the less sculpted style for the second half of last season, and stayed that way this whole season. Some branches are one style, others are another style.



These two leaves are off of the same tree, two different branches:



I know this is an extreme example, but it illustrates the point. I took pix at Davis of some trees that were nearly as radical, and of a Black Mission tree at a friend's collection in Orange County because of this very issue. Some of the branches on his tree absolutely did not look like BM.

My conclusion on leaves is this: They can generally be used to eliminate varieties, or narrow down the possible selections when you are trying to identify an unknown variety, and in some cases are unique enough to narrow it down to a very few choices, but will probably never be a conclusive method of identification. Otherwise, I could take pictures once, and be done with it, but because they change from season to season (leaves and fruit) I keep taking pictures to document and demonstrate the range of what is possible from a given tree - without all the possible range that you would have if you moved the tree to different climates and other conditions. For instance, figs at Davis must be assumed to be caprified. In many cases this greatly enhances or changes the color of the flesh. So when I compare them to figs grown here, often they are not the same. Which one is correct? Both.

Imagine what you drivers license might be like if you hair or skin color changed with latitude. Go from San Diego, on vacation, as a white man with blond hair to North Dakota and become a Latino with red hair. When the Cop in ND stops you and asks for you license, and you give him you CA D/L, he will think you are giving a false ID.

I sent pix of several varieties that I have purchased from Paradise Nursery to the proprietor and she did not recognize them, because they are different in her climate.

I wanted to be able to put everything in a neat little box when I started collecting figs, but I gave up on it a long time ago.



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Reply with quote  #17 
Nice informative post Jon about your observations .
Here is what i have observed with my oldest tree's

Hardy Chicago source Paradise Nursery bought 2004,
this tree leaves in spring can look like my EL Sals but as season gets older leaves change a little and i can tell the difference, the fruit is pretty consistent in shape some might be a little bigger some a little smaller, taste is pretty consistent as well rich figgy taste, some years maybe a little richer taste some maybe a little less.

EL Sals - bought 2003, this tree in spring can look very similar to my Hardy Chicago but as season moves on the leaves change somewhat and i can tell the difference, the fruit is consistent in its sweet taste and shape, some years maybe a little sweeter some years a little less, although like leaves some are smaller some are a little bigger.

My unknown and my oldest- ebay special i say with humor,  this this tree out of the 3 has the most different shape leaves the fruit has 2 different shapes on tree but the 2 shapes taste the same . As for taste first year it gave figs sweet and then each year fig size grew bigger, 2 years ago i was shocked when for first time the figs had a melon taste. This year that melon taste was basically gone for some reason and just a very nice sweet taste.
The fig inside color changed for the first time this year as well as the color was red and not light pink like in previous years.
Maybe three finally matured i really dont know.

Unknown italian fig tree that came 10k south of Bolonia
last season was its 3rd and only 1 ripe fig ever all others drop as in previous year , they start top to a reddish color but do not plump up and shrivel and fall, i new i would get that 1 ripe fig as it did plump overnight and turned from red to a darker color similar to Sals and then ripened soon after , it was a sweet fig that reminded me of Sals tree but way to early to tell anything about tree, leaves this year seemed more consistent in there shape.

With only these 4 on patio im able to give my attention to them and watch them grow each year and see any changes . The unknown off ebay is the one that i dont know what to expect but maybe it will be more consistent in years to come im not sure.
I have come to learn over the years from reading and seeing pictures on forums that they can be different depending on where they are grown and that really fascinates me.
I can see how most get what some call the fig bug !
I will only get more curious and observant as the other 12 or so i have grow.
Seems like its never ending talking about fig tree's and there habits which for me is very enjoyable .
Martin
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Reply with quote  #18 
This is all great stuff!
Thanks so much to Ingevald for pulling it together.
I'm with Jon: this is the essence of  fig *Fun*.
I believe it was Mr. Givan who sez fig classifiers are either *lumpers or splitters.* I think our beloved ficus will defeat both, at one time or another.
If I live long enough--my dream is to use the approach of Goethean Science on figs, not well known on this side of the pond. But here are some links:

http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/physics/courses/sth209/gscience.html

http://www.awakenings.com/anthroposophy-and-goethean/35-general-anthroposophic-and-goethean/45-goethean-science

http://island.org/prescience/goethe.html

http://www.janushead.org/8-1/Holdrege.pdf

Appreciate you all,
Stephen V.


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Reply with quote  #19 
Excellent inputs from Jon, Martin and Stephen.

If you get a chance, flip through the "descriptors" reference. It identifies location, climate, local conditions as key descriptors - recognizing the variations from locale to locale. It also makes for provisions on identifying caprification timing and extent. It also documents tree ages, etc. I think the point is to use a codified way of describing our plants (at our location / conditions). This is very valuable information to collectors to determine how a given plant will or might behave.

I don't think anyone really expects a fig of a given type to stick to a fixed set of characteristics. And some plants just may be so inconsistent as to defy attempts to pin it down. That in and of itself is valuable to know.

I just think that this community's collective knowledge about their trees should be documented somehow so that it can be made available to a wider community. Using a codified system removes some of the ambiguity created by different means of describing and explaining.

Just one frustrated fig lover's opinion. And I just love this discussion. Thanks all - keep it up!

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I cannot help myself as i keep coming back to this post, one thing aside from leaf and fruit is the general hardiness and if a tree is late or early season to ripen its figs, this in itself has helped me to decide which types i would like to try.
Of course i like to go against the odds and try a few that just should not do well to experiment with as to how i might make them produce maybe some figs that otherwise would be to late  its just plain fun for me. Madeira is one of them , to try and make grow is Ischia Black for me and this one is winning so far but i experiment now with some vitamins and hormones along with heavy fertilizng of this small hard headed plant infected with FMV but its fun for me. I have nothing to lose in trying i figure but a plant and then i would be stubborn and get another of same and start all over trying something different. Thats just me.
Martin
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Reply with quote  #21 
Martin,

I agree with you on having the info on early/late ripening. It would be a big help for me (and others) who have the same short seasons. This is one of the many reasons to want to have a standardized method for describing figs that includes local climate and environment. It would help us know if a given variety has previously done well in similar conditions as we have.

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Reply with quote  #22 

That is why I have the Ripening Order posted - but not very many people have contirbuted to it, so far. It is a start.


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Reply with quote  #23 
Jon,

The "Ripening" posting is a great thread - next season I should be able to contribute to it. And by the way, please don't misinterpret any of this thread's discussion and not being appreciative of the exhaustive work you have done here at F4F. In fact it is this forum and the cataloging that you have done that has left us all wanting more (job well done). Your website is a great collection of knowledge about our favorite fruit tree. If it wasn't for this forum and all the great information being shared here, I would never have appreciated the amazing variation of fig varieties. But when you start to learn and understand things, you get to a point where it feels overwhelming and you start to search for a way to sort it all out so it starts to make sense again. I think that's where I am at and why I like the idea of a codified system.

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Reply with quote  #24 
Our fearless Moderator wrote:
Short of DNA testing every tree, they cannot be sorted. Oh, wait, that doesn't work either. I have about 2 dozen Celeste trees from different sources. Many of them have been DNA tested at USDA, and are identical. But they do NOT look, behave, grow, taste the same in my orchard - similar to some extent, yes, identical, NO.

Obviously this insoluble problem is a FUN thing as well!
I will never be a specialist in any of these fields (genetix, botany, horticulture) but the World would be a much bleaker place without us ama-teurs, imho.

I forgot to post one of the neatest things I have encountered in the plant Morphology arena from a scientist in the UK:
http://www.i-sis.org.uk/SignificantFormInScienceAndArt.php

I think a little amateur morphology will enhance this wonderful (by the sounds of it) long-term fig-naming project we have going. Besides, this approach is a little more (philosophically) romantic (& cheaper!) than DNA.

Blessed holidays to all you fig lovers,
stephen


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Steve, I understand the desire. I have been there. That is what started Figs 4 Fun: trying ro collect info and understand my own collection. Then I discovered how little there was, esp. in pictures, so I set out to help. But I did discover that I wasn't likely to really solve the ID issue. That brought me to where I am today: still wanting better IDs, but content in the knowledge that it probably ain't going to happen. So I work at it, but "the eating" is still the thing. 


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I like to bump this thread up im sure some members have not seen it.

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Reply with quote  #27 
Thanks for bumping this one up, I enjoyed reading through it.

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Reply with quote  #28 
Martin,

I'm wondering...  If I want to take cuttings, or air layer from a particular fig tree, would it make a difference if I did so from branches that grew in a more robust, healthy-looking way?  I'm about to air layer such a branch that was more loaded with figs and dropped fewer of them, just for fun to see if it would behave differently from the parent tree, but maybe it wouldn't make any difference.  That trunk of the bush may just have a better root system, or something.

noss

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Reply with quote  #29 
Not sure, but if you try would enjoy reading your results.

Personally if a tree likes to drop figs for me i dont keep it.

For scion i have my own best results when i cut last seasons bud tip piece right before tree wakes up and start propagating it.
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Reply with quote  #30 
This is interesting reading.  
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Reply with quote  #31 
Glad you bumped this, Danny.  Very good discussion and the sad reality of this hobby.
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Reply with quote  #32 
Bumping this very old thread. I'm not expecting any great revelations here (although that would be nice)....Searching the forum it's become obvious that one could bang their head clear through a wall trying to positively identify a particular variant fig....

The question I'd like to offer for additional discussion is off on just a slight tangent - That is - how does a "named" fig get it's officially recognized name. Here's what I mean. I could buy what is clearly a Dalmatie. It's looks and behaves like a Dalmatie. But if root a bunch and call them Pipino's Delight, of course I'm being disingenuous.

I understand the Desert King comes from a fig tree found in 1930, near Madera, California. OK, by whom and at what point could it be legitimately called by that name?  Why did [whomever] get to legitimately name a brown turkey? Why are we not calling it an "unknown brown turkey"?

Alternately, I take a variety that's been grown for generations on an old family homestead for generations. following attempts in the community and perhaps DNA tests there is no conclusive match... Is it an "unknown Pipino's Delight"? Can I then legitimately name this fig and declare it the mother tree? A new and unique cultivar? Why not? Who gets to decide?

As far as I know there's no internationally recognized "fig" body that examines and defines species.....or is there?

Is this problem the same for peach or apple trees? Or olives?

Can of worms - REOPENED


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Reply with quote  #33 
At one time, long ago and far, far, away I asked a similar question and as I remember Jon Encanto Farms, Grand Guru, Exalted Poopah of this forum, etc, etc said that UCD/Riverside had germoplasm/DNA/??? on all the figs in their inventory and that they had numbers assigned as well as the common name.  I have seen a list, somewhere.

I would not swear to any of the above but I believe it to be true.  I would ask someone that has connections to UCD/Riverside to confirm this if possible.

The only rule that I am aware of in the naming of figs is that the word "Unknown" should be included in all names.

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Reply with quote  #34 
Hey Danny. I'm not sure I follow the last bit... it's not "unknown desert king" or "unknown black mission"...right?

Jon shared some really interesting variants on this thread....the different stuff he had growing off of the same tree is very strange....

But back to the name...If I give my fig a name and there's no reasonable contest that it's unique...then what makes it any more unknown that a named fig?




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Reply with quote  #35 
I don't have an answer but I have an opinion, and what's better than that?
We are talking about a fig you found growing somewhere. It is assumed this is a fig from a cutting and not a seed. (A seed is inherently unique and this method would not apply.). I would think there should be some kind of organized way to do give it an official name.
Proposal:
1) Take what you think is unique and disperse it throughout the fig community so others can grow it and report on the variety. Maybe it's terrible, maybe someone else is growing it and it can be positively identified as a known variety.
2) have a DNA test to determine if is actually something else. (I would imagine that there is not DNA on record for every known variety but a lot of them.)
3) Wait a predetermined amount of time for growers to give their collective opinions. 5-10 years?
4) You get to name your fig.

If this works for everyone let's make it happen.
BTW I have about 60 unknown varieties

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Reply with quote  #36 
You can do whatever you want in naming anything.  Most people naming figs are renaming something that already has a name though it may not be known to the renaming individual or members of the forum.

The CURRENT thinking/wisdom is to include the word "Unknown".  This is not my wisdom, it has been discussed on several occasions and seems like a good idea to a lot of people.

What is, is, what was, is was.  Who knows what the Native name in the native country really is for all figs.  I know of a tree in New Delhi, India that I asked what it kind of fig it was and 2 of the "natives" in our office said 2 different names, who knows?

The only named figs that I personally know how it was named are the LSU Scott's Black/Yellow.  How do I know?, I asked Dr Johnson at LSU.  Named for a friend of Ed O'Rourke who came down on his vacations and helped at the Center, or so the story goes.

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Reply with quote  #37 
Ingevald outlined the scope of fig naming issues.

To use a math analogy there are a some equations that can't be solved.  If fig names were a math equation they would be one..lol

Think of the many countries growing figs and of the 1000's of  fig varieties and only a handful are named for reasons such as agriculture cultivars, history..) 
Most of the fig varieties referred to as black fig, white fig, red fig from this place or that place.  This has served their purpose well since everyone grew figs to feed their family and livestock and there was a limited market for selling nursery products.

Recently fig collection has grown into an exciting hobby for many and there has been some efforts for naming standards. 

The Ira Condit study is the best one I have read and seems to include many of the figs known at that time. 
Condit also points out the issues with fig naming.  Showing how the same fig is called by different names and some names refer to multiple figs and some fig names are obviously wrong, on and on. 
The UC Davis collection is named and numbered, LSU collection and many nursery growers have their own named collection. (Poms, Baud, Belloni, Jon ....) 

How to bring all these partial efforts together into one comprehensive library is no easy task? 
What is the requirement for this all encompassing fig library and associated cost?
 
Let's face it how many perfectly ripe figs grown in an ideal environment have you tasted that didn't taste amazing? 
Which brings us back to why figs were seldom named in the od days.

IMO;
How to give names to new discovered figs is a topic covered on this forum many times before.  Not sure what the last consensus was but should include some basic steps;

1. Investigate if the new fig has already been named
- search existing fig names and photos 
- post fruit, and leaf photos, fig detail description and the fig's story including origin on the forums see if anyone has any ideas or recognizes it.
2. Using the information gathered above and the figs origin, looks, and characteristics give an appropriate NEW name to the fig and suffix it with Unknown. 
3. Over years distribute the figs to others and gather feedback on how it grows in different environments and how it compares to other known figs.
4. adjust the fig name if necessary with notifications to people who now also have the fig.
5. At some point the unknown suffix can be dropped as it has been on the existing known figs.  For good naming practice replace the unk. with the discoverer's initials as in the case of; Marseilles Black VS, Dauphine (Baud) ...

Obviously there are many opinions on fig naming.  To reach an agreed to consensus a new topic should be started by someone willing to own the result including publishing it and ensure people adhere to it in future.

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Reply with quote  #38 
This is exactly the way I was thinking. Here you have a bunch of varietiescurrently defined as "unknown". 
To me it seems unreasonable
that you mightcare for and propagate one of your varieties for years, only to havesomeone name your
UK Naples Dark a "UK Napoli Nero"
(or something moreobscure). IMO there needs to be established some due diligence process,followed by a recognized
body(or bodies)
who officially recognize theseare unique cultivars.At some point - if it's established as unique,
then it's a discovery andno longer an unknown.
I suppose the question then is who decides and based on what criteria. I can't imagine what that would take.
It would seem that if due diligence is done, then Naples Dark is no more unknown
than black madeira.

I know I'm coming at this from a position of ignorance. I don't know how the names
of most known figs were defined....

I suppose one other thing for consideration is as to weather this is all out of
a desire to give credit for a discovery or if the community is seeking to
own the variety as say, Monsanto does with a strain of food crop.
As it is now I can share figs, named or unnamed, freely with other fig-lovers.
Simply with an effort to provide as much respect as I can as to its lineage.

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Reply with quote  #39 
This old topic will always be an ever-present issue that we will have to contend with.   Thanks for the recent comments.

Maybe there will be a time when an affordable DNA testing kit will be available to determine the identity of the figs we encounter.   I think that the USDA has tested all of the figs in its database.   Perhaps the data from our tests could be compared against their data or the data from other germplasm collections.   Of course the figs that were donated to them may fall into one of the original categories that I outlined in the beginning of this note.  

There are other germplasm collections in the world that have also had their DNA tested and am sure that that these organizations have shared and compared their data with one another. 

Efforts to accurately document figs have been thought about by many of us.   Here, the F4F site has attempted to help solve the problem with its own varietal database and via discussions on the forums where members post pictures, describe flavors and other characteristics.    Other forums such as Our Figs have also been working on such measures.

The USDA has their public accessible database on figs where some descriptive information can be extracted, including the original donor of the plant material.   The photographic record is missing as well as some other data points.  

Over the years, I have encountered members with ambitions to create databases.   The efforts are genuine but it takes time...

I think that if you are interested in fig identification, one of the old referenced documents is worth visiting.  The IPGRI Descriptors for Fig document is excellent.  Here is an updated link.
http://www.bioversityinternational.org/uploads/tx_news/Descriptors_for_fig__Ficus_carica__907.pdf
It goes into more detail that is likely necessary but is an excellent way to document figs in the traditional way, without access to DNA analysis. 

Another good exercise is outlined in this document that I've posted before - Morphological and Pomological Characteristics of Fig cultivars from Varamin, Iran.    http://www.academicjournals.org/article/article1380961172_Darjazi.pdf

We all have to do the best that we can with the identification and naming issues.   Tracking a variety as far back as possible and hanging on to that information is a good start.

Byron (Ingevald)

 



 
TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #40 
Thanks Byron. Looking at those documents just briefly...I feel I could quickly be in over my head. 

It's looking to me that until the resources and organization exists to do what Pino and ADelmanto are suggesting, the best way to know what you're really getting is to know the mother tree.....And the people who are caring for them....




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