Fig Variety Details


Hardy Chicago

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Belleclare #6, Bensonhurst Purple, Chicago, Chicago Hardy, Mongibello

Variety Strains

"Fred Born acquired this variety from an Italian grower in Chicago a number of years ago and has shared it with other enthusiasts. It has also become a commercial variety for it is an excellent fig. (Note: Hardy Chicago does resemble Brown Turkey, but the leaves and fruit are distinguishable. It is very hardy. The fruit is small to medium with blackish-purple skin and strawberry pulp. Small eye. Pyriform with long slender neck. Leaf: base calcarate; 5 lobes, lyrate. Very good fresh, dried or in preserves. Responds well to oiling (a method of inducing ripening of immature fruit in late Fall) . Well-adapted in the Eastern U.S. and deserves trials in the Northwest. Last summer I confirmed to my own satisfaction that the commercial variety offered by Edible Landscaping is identical with Fred's variety. Synonym: Chicago Hardy."

"Productive and easy to grow. Bears delicious medium-size figs. Exhibits drought-tolerant once established. Plant will die back in colder climates and resume growth in spring. Has tendency to bear fruit on new growth. Fruit produced on the old wood will appear in early summer and fruit on new growth will appear in early fall. Ripe fruit has a dark mahogany color. Also known as Bensonhurst Purple fig. Originates from Sicily. Grows well in containers! Heat-tolerant. Ripens in July through frost."

"A brown fig, rich and sweet. Good for potted culture, although it is our most dependable outdoor fig. Hardy Chicago ripens its figs from August until fall frost and will have some fruit in July. Has produced as many as 100 pints of figs in one season. Does extremely well in NC and we send this one to enthusiasts up north, because of its early fruiting tendency. Success will vary with every location, so be sure to give it the warmest, most protected place. It's our best fig and came to our attention in the 1970's when cuttings for propagation came from Fred Borne, a North American Fruit Explorer member. Cuttings were supplied to him from a man from Chicago with a "U" shaped house, from a bush he had protected for some years. Without protection the mature bushes top would die back from winter cold, but sprouted from the roots and ripened some figs at the end of the season. Most fig varieties do not share this trait. Usually, a fig's above ground growth must survive the winter in order to fruit the following season. Leaves are the 5-lobed type and the plant has a bush form in the east. Space 8' to 10' circle in Zone 7"

"This edible fig can take subfreezing temperatures, dying back in the fall and resprouting in the spring. The medium-sized fruit ripens to a delicious, sweetness in late summer and early fall. For northern growers, give it a heavy mulch with hay or leaves when dormant. An excellent candidate for pot culture, this easy-to-grow fig is also known as 'Bensonhurst Purple.' Its origins are from Sicily."


Robert Harper in Connecticut: Also known as Besonhurst Purple. Discovered growing out side in a suburb of Chicago, by long time fig lover, Fred Born. Considered a standard for flavor for cold hardy, midseason figs, by many well know fig collectors. Cold hardy to around minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 6 degrees Fahrenheit? Most have at least 8 hours off direct sun light to produce a decent crop of figs. Does not like rain while ripening. If it rains while it is ripening, the fruit must be covered or the rain will dilute the flavor. Considered a standard for flavor, among many fig connoisseurs, for mid-season cold hardy figs. Also, it’s strong berry profile makes an outstanding fig candy when rain and dew are kept off the ripening fruit. See above picture of dried fruit. We used slit cups to keep the rain and dew off of the ripening fruit. The original finder of Sal’s EL, does not think Hardy Chicago is as hardy as Sal’s EL, and culled his test tree in place of Sal’s EL. We agree that Hardy Chicago does not appear to be as cold hardy as Sal’s EL. But, a lot of fig collectors we know think it’s great enough to keep in their collections any way.  Zone 6b/7?

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Hardy Chicago
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Berry, Dark Berry, Fruity
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Very Thin
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  • Ripens 5-7 days later than Celeste.
  • Seattle: 9/27/18, 41g

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Very Thin
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Cold Hardiness
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Additional Notes
  • Cold Hardiness: excellent

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