Bernissenca, Bernard, Bernissenque, Barnissenquo, Martinenca, Vernisingue? Vernissenque? Ficus carica bernardi Risso


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Barnissenca (syns. Bernissenca, Bernard, Bernissenque, Barnissenquo, Martinenca, probably Vernisingue or Vernissenque, Ficus carica bernardi Risso). Described by Bernard (1787), Duhamel (1809), Risso (1826), Noisette (1829), Couverchel (1839), Escribano y Perez (1884), Sauvaigo (1889), Eisen (1888, 1901), Estelrich (1910), Sanchez (1922), Priego y Jaramillo (1922), and Simonet et al. (1945). See the account of Sarreigne in this monograph, regarding the confusion of that variety with Barnissenca. The latter is a fig of Provence, reported to do best in a moist, rich soil, and apt to drop its fruit when grown on drier ground. Risso gives the season of maturity as September to December. Sauvaigo emphasizes this by stating that Barnissenca is one of the varieties in which late figs of the second crop may remain on the tree during the winter, maturing in the spring. As pointed out under the description of Sarreigne, the variety Barnissenca is properly referred to as Ficus carica bernardi of Risso, and not to F. carica garideli, as given by Sauvaigo, and later by both Eisen and Simonet. Martinenca is described and figured by Estelrich, with Bernissenque as a synonym; on account of its quality and resistance to bad drying weather in the fall, growers on the Balearic Islands call it the “queen of black figs.”

Vernisingue has been described by Merlet (1667), Ballon (1692), Liger (1702), Langley (1728), Bradley (1757), Hanbury (1770), Christ (1812), Audibert Frères (1854), Hogg (1866), Soc. Pomol. de France (1887, 1947), Eisen (1888, 1901), and by Starnes and Monroe (1907, with illustration).

Merlet called it Vernisingue, a name which Liger stated was very plainly invented. The spelling Vernissenque was adopted by both Hogg and Eisen. The latest account, that of Société’ Pomologique de France, lists it as Vernissangue, with Vernissenque as a synonym, and agrees with most early authors that the external color of the fig is ashy violet or violet-brown. Eisen, however, followed Hogg in describing the skin as perfectly black, without a trace of lighter color. All of this leads to the conclusion that the identity of Vernissenque is very much in doubt. The evidence seems to point to the conclusion that it is the same as Barnissenca, in spite of the fact that Eisen (1901) reported it to be “a distinct and well-characterized fig, superior in flavor to the small, round Verdal, which it somewhat resembles.”

The tree of Barnissenca bears a second crop only. No records of its occurrence in California have been found. Description of fruit is compiled from accounts of various authors.

Figs medium or below, about 1-1/4 by 1-1/2 inches, oblique-spherical; skin thin, adhering to the pulp; color violet-brown; pulp bright red; texture watery; quality mediocre.

Condit Group
Common Fig with Various Dark Shades of Red or Brown or Violet to Black Skin and Various Shades of Red Pulp
Sub Family
Persistent Caprifig
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