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del Giappone, Ficus hirta, Hirta, Hirta du Japan, Japanese, Pastelliere, Pastidiere, Red of Bordeaux
Planet Fig: In 1895, Simon-Louis Frères indicates that this fig tree was brought by a botanist named M. de Sieboldi, during his expedition in Japan to study the flora, between 1823 and 1830. In 1845, the Italian Gasparrini names this fig tree 'Hirta del Giappone' (of Japan), because of the small downy fuzz on fruits and leaves, but also because of the oriental origin.
Pastilière was described in California in 1860, with no indication of origin, but in 1888 Eisen declares that it originates from Italy. It is only in 1920 that it is clearly confirmed that Pastilière is identical to the 'Hirta du Japon' variety.
The origin of this fig tree remains doubtful, because if this variety originates from Japan, then it could have been introduced in 1690 by the Portuguese.
Nowadays, this variety is really spread in the region of Toulouse and seems completely absent from Italy.
Pastilière is a tree of little vigor, of small size, adapted to small gardens, whose branches of medium caliber are covered by beautiful and dense foliage, slightly downy.
The resistance to cold is excellent and is probably also increased by the lack of vigor of the new growth in Spring and the fast hardening of its wood in Summer. In addition the terminal buds which are normally very cold sensitive, resist to Winter without being damaged by frost.
Early in Spring, this fig tree develops a lot of breba fruits that will rapidly fall at various growing phases.
This tree is particularly interesting for the early and abundant main crop production. The fruits are really beautiful, initially blue, then dark black, of medium size, slightly downy. However, they tend to split easily, even in dry weather condition, as a consequence, they quickly spoil. They usually never dry on the tree and fall as soon as they are ripe. This fig is particularly juicy, pleasant, but may be disappointing, because of insufficient sugar rate.
In addition, when summers are rainy and cool, the entire main crop production may fall. This behavior is usually observed in Spring, on many breba croppers, when temperatures greatly vary, but very rarely on main crop production. However, it is easy to plant this fig tree on a south-facing wall to limit wind impacts, temperatures changes… and fruits drop.
Despite the relative growing difficulties, this fig tree remains interesting for the little place that it requires, the great cold resistance and the abundant and early main crop.
In the family yard, when Pastilière is associated with other fig trees that produce breba fruits (Valleiry, Desert King or Grise de St-Jean) and main crop fruits (Dalmatie or Vallecalda ), it almost guarantees a continuous production between the last breba and the first main crop fruit.
Finally, in cold years, this type of early fig tree usually enables a main crop.
(syns. Pastidière, Pastellière, Hirta, Hirta du Japon, del Giappone, Japanese, Ficus hirta). Pastilière is described by G. S. (1869), Colby (1894), Forrer (1894), Trabut (1904), Eisen (1897, 1901), Condit (1921b, 1947), and Braunton (1936). Hirta is described by Barron (1891), Eisen (1888, 1901), Shinn (1893, 1903,1915), Colby (1894), Forrer (1894), Simon-Louis Frères (1895), Price and White (1902), Starnes (1903), Starnes and Monroe (1907, with figure), and Blin (1942).
The origin and identity of the variety Pastilière are somewhat in doubt. Eisen (1888) listed it as coming from Italy, but in his later publication he omitted any reference to its origin. It is illustrated and described in Eisen’s bulletin of 1901, with the following comment: “If the writer could plant only one blue variety, it would certainly be this fig. The fine form of the tree, its abundant cropping, and the superior quality of the fruit should make this fig a favorite all over the Pacific Coast.”
Pastilière was grown and tested at the California Experiment Stations from 1891 to 1903, with reports such as the following: At Jackson, the best black fig; at Paso Robles, a very desirable variety; at Tulare, ranked first with Hirta du Japon so far as bearing was concerned; at Pomona, Hirta du Japon was a heavy producer in 1892, but in 1895 was utterly worthless, as the figs soured and rotted on the tree. In 1894, Hansen reported Pastilière as the best black fig at the Foothill station. P.I. No. 18,888 of the Chiswick collection was labeled Pastilière. According to notes taken at Chico in September, 1921, fruits of this introduction were small, purplish black, and of no particular value, either fresh or dried. A commercial planting of Pastilière, consisting of about eighty trees, was maintained for several years at the Point Loma homestead, San Diego. The crops of fresh figs during the five-year period, 1921 to 1925, varied from 3,909 to 8,580 pounds, obtained from the single crop ripening in August. Another small planting was made at Vacaville, but there the variety was found to be inferior to Mission (Franciscana).
According to Simon-Louis Frères (1895), Hirta is a Japanese variety, introduced into France by M. de Siebold. Barron described it in 1891 as one of Rivers Brothers’ introductions. Trabut (1904) stated that it had been brought only recently into Algeria. In California, it was described by Eisen in 1888 as “a fruit covered with a downy fuzz.” In 1901, he described it as a purple fig, with “skin smooth, but not waxy; not downy, even when magnified,” and added that there was reported to be another Hirta with downy fruit, also from Japan. Colby (1894) gave analyses of the fruit from Tulare County. Shinn (1903, 1915) stated that Hirta du Japon is a dark-purple fig, of high quality for home gardens. Hirta du Japon, obtained in 1920 from J. C. Shinn, Niles, has proved to be identical with Pastilière in variety tests. It was included in the Chiswick collection from England as P.I. No. 18,857.
Various accounts report that the tree of Pastilière is of slow, compact growth, so that it might be called a dwarf tree. G. S. (1869) stated that both tree and leaves were ill-shaped, and that most of the fruit dropped off, imperfect. At Riverside, two trees of Pastilière and one of Hirta, all planted in 1928, have been decidedly dwarf in habit of growth. Furthermore, both trunk and branches show prominent nodal swellings characteristic of this and of certain other varieties. (Plate 5.)
Terminal buds are plump, short, and green in color, tinged with brown. Leaves below medium to small, mostly 3-lobed, but many nonlobed; upper sinuses shallow, basal sinuses shallow and broad; base sometimes truncate; surface slightly glossy; margins coarsely serrate. The following description is based mainly on fruit produced by Pastilière trees obtained in 1920 from the California Nursery Company, Niles.
Brebas none, or rare. Second crop abundant. Figs medium, 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches in length and about the same in diameter, turbinate or oblate; weight of individual fruits from 27 to 55 grams; neck absent, or when present, short and thick; stalk purple, thick, sometimes prominently enlarged toward the apex, up to 1 inch in length, loosely attached to the twig, so that figs seldom dry on the tree, but drop when mature; ribs narrow, slightly raised, conspicuous on the immature fruit because of earlier coloration than body; eye large, open, scales purple, with scarious margins; surface dull, with very conspicuous, pruinose bloom, thickly studded with prominent, harsh hairs (hence the variety name Hirta); white flecks large, conspicuous at first, but finally obscured by body coloration; skin fairly tender, checking crisscross at maturity; color purplish black; meat white; pulp gelatinous in texture, light strawberry in color, hollow at the center; flavor insipid, watery. Seed coats not at all developed, or only partially so; pulp is therefore almost seedless. Quality at Riverside fair to poor. See Condit (1941a, fig. 2, C). (Plates 10; 28, E.)
Caprified figs somewhat larger, with dark-strawberry pulp and large, fertile seeds.
A fig of no value for drying and of little value for fresh fruit, on account of variable sizes, loose stalk, prominent spicules on the skin, and insipid flavor.
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