Here’s something I think it just crazy awesome: In Italy, RIGHT NOW, there are fig trees growing that are exact clones of fig trees from the 1st century. Someone cut a branch from a fig tree back in the days of Pliny the Elder, and they turned that branch into a new tree, and on and on, one cutting to the next, all the way to 2012. When you taste the fruit of that tree, it’s flavor straight out of Ancient Rome.
If you were really crazy about figs, I’m sure you could go on a quest to Italy and track down one of those trees and talk some wizened old Italian woman in a headscarf and heavy stockings into giving you a branch. Ordering a fig tree on the internet is easier.
But what kind should you order? There’s something like 700 official varieties of fig out there. I’m going to make it a little simpler for you. You want a common fig.
Even though there are 700 official varieties, there are four major fig types: Smyrna, Caprifigs, San Pedros, and Common figs. Smyrna figs require fig wasps for pollination. Ditto San Pedros. Unless you would also like to raise fig wasps, cross those families off your list. Caprifigs produce pollen and no fruit. They’re off your list too. That leaves you with common figs. They’re amazing because they develop fruit WITHOUT POLLINATION. No wasp farm necessary.
While all the “common figs” are technically just varieties of common fig, that’s like saying all dogs are just dogs. With common fig, you get everything from Mission Figs to Green Ischia figs. Green figs, yellow figs, purple figs, striped figs. It’s like the range from Dachshunds to Great Danes.
Want to see some pretty pictures of some of those common fig varieties to help you make up your mind? Here you go!
Mission figs: Purple, luscious, lovely.
Alma figs: Such yellow green prettiness.
Magnolia figs: Can you beat that ruby red interior?
Green Ischia figs: they’re almost psychedelic.
Panachee: Stripes outside, the color of strawberries inside. What’s not to love?
See what I’m saying? Common figs — they’re not boring!