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Fig Varieties: A Monograph - uri=ucce.ucdavis

Fig Varieties: A Monograph - uri=ucce.ucdavis

HILGARDIA A Journal of

HILGARDIA A Journal of Agricultural Science Published by the California Agricultural Experiment Station _____________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________ VOL. 23 FEBRUARY, 1955 No. 11 _____________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________ FIG VARIETIES: A MONOGRAPH 1, 2 IRA J. CONDIT 3 INTRODUCTION THE COMMON FIG occurs in a great number of varieties, which have evolved mainly as natural seedlings during the many centuries in which this fruit has been under cultivation. As early as the fourth century B.C., Theophrastus (1916) 4 reported that most good fruits, including the fig, had received names. Ulysses, the hero of the Odyssey, obtained from his father twenty fig trees, all with names. In the first century of the Christian Era, Pliny (1855) listed twenty-nine varieties, with the localities in which they were grown, and quoted Cato, who also had given names to several varieties. Pliny further stated: “Since his [Cato’s] day there have been so many names and kinds come up, that even on taking this subject into consideration, it must be apparent to everyone how great are the changes which have taken place in civilized life.” Various authorities maintain that certain figs now being grown in Italy are directly descended by asexual propagation from the clonal varieties listed by Pliny, and are therefore identical with them. Barnissotte, for example, is referred by Gallesio to “Fico Africano” of Roman times. The Mission (Franciscana) fig of California, which was introduced into the New World over four hundred years ago by the Spanish explorers, had undoubtedly been previously propagated in southern Spain for many centuries. Pliny listed names of figs and gave the color of mature fruits, but did not describe varieties in detail. Porta, in his Pomarium of 1583 and his subsequent much larger work of 1592, did little more than list varieties of that period, but he gave citations to previous authorities on synonymy. Beginning with Aldrovandi in 1668, and more specifically with Cupani in 1696, the accounts were sufficiently detailed to enable later writers to compare characters and to identify varieties with more or less certainty. Subsequent accounts or descriptions of fig varieties are numerous as shown in the appended bibliography. Many have been purposely omitted from this monograph because the ____________ 1 Received for publication March 4, 1954. 2 Paper No. 829, University of California Citrus Experiment Station, Riverside, California. 3 Professor of Subtropical Horticulture, Emeritus, and Subtropical Horticulturist, Emeritus, in the Experiment Station. 4 See “Literature Cited” for citations, referred to in the text by author and date. [ 323 ]

324 Hilgardia [Vol. 23, No. 11 descriptions were very evidently not based on personal studies, but had been copied from previous authorities. Too often, we find, writers copied verbatim, but failed to mention the source of their information or to give credit to other authors. This is not the first attempt to publish a monograph of fig varieties. A writer in Revue Horticole (1865, p.31) told about an Italian, Suffren de Salerne, who had prepared a monograph covering the descriptions and illustrations of 360 varieties. Apparently the publication never got beyond the manuscript stage. Various authors call attention to a compilation by Geny (1867) entitled “Les figuiers spontanés et cultivés dans les Alpes Maritimes, Nice.” According to Eisen, this unpublished manuscript, which consisted of colored plates without text, could not be located for his study in 1901. Several accounts of fig varieties are excellent and detailed; examples are Vallese (1909), Mann (1939), and Simonet et al. (1945). These deal mostly with restricted localities, and are not monographic in character. Probably the most complete publication is that of Eisen (1901), in which there were described or listed some 348 common figs, 10 Smyrna figs, and 19 caprifigs. Students of fig varieties have cause for regret that Dr. Eisen could not have been more specific as to which crop he was considering in his descriptive notes, and that he failed in most cases to state the locality in which the specimens were grown. Obviously, much has been published in the ensuing fifty years, and horticulturists are enabled to study the behavior of varieties under widely separated and varied climatic conditions. Citations to early nursery catalogues in the United States are not included. Perusal of several such catalogues by H. R. Fulton, United States Department of Agriculture, shows that from 1771 to 1866, trees of numerous fig varieties were offered for sale at prices ranging from fifty cents to one dollar each. Prominent among these nurseries were the following: William R. Prince, Parsons and Co., and Stephen F. Mills, all of Flushing, Long Island; John Bartram and Son, Philadelphia; William Kenrick, Newton, Massachusetts; Hovey and Co., Boston; and Ellwanger and Barry, Rochester. This monograph of fig varieties is based upon personal observations and studies extending over a period of more than thirty years, mostly in California, but also including notes taken during visits to France, Algeria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, and Portugal. A few standard varieties were found growing even in Japan and China when the author traveled in those countries in 1934—1935. Much has been learned from the so-called Chiswick collection of figs, grown in four distinct localities of California. Introduced in 1894 by the United States Department of Agriculture from the Royal Horticultural Society of England, scions of each variety (some sixty-six in all) were successfully grafted on trees in the orchard of the California Nursery Company at Niles. A prized possession of the library of the University of California Citrus Experiment Station at Riverside, is the record book containing penciled notes as well as outline drawings made by John Rock and Gustav Eisen of these figs as grown at Niles and at Biggs. Subsequently, the collection was transferred to the United States Plant Introduction Garden, near Chico, where the author made notes on the varieties in 1916, 1918, and 1921. Cuttings of most of the varieties were established in a plot at Fresno in

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    Bulletin (Cp), 341 Burjassotte Bran

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    Colombo Nero (C), 432 Colombo Pazzo

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    Dominique (C), 477 Donicale = Datte

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    labillardiera = Coucourelle Gavotte

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    Levenssana (C), 446 Limoncello (C),

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    Messenia Kalamata, 348 Messina (C),

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    Saint Jean Gris = Saint Jean, 465 S

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    Strawberry = Verdone, 406 Striped =

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    Zidi (S), 359 Zidi-el-Agouch = Sidi

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    1933. Fig culture in California. Ca

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    The journal Hilgardia is published

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