Fig Variety Main Info
- Ischia White
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- DFIC 73
As Ischia (syns. White Ischia, Singleton, Brocket Hall). Described by Royal Horticultural Society catalogues of 1831 and 1842, M’Intosh (1855), Hogg (1866), Barron (1868c, 1891), Wright (1894), Wythes (1890a, 1893), Eisen (1885, 1888, 1897, 1901), Forrer (1894), S. H. B. (1896), Price and White (1902); Starnes (1903), Starnes and Monroe (1907), Royal Hort. Society (1916), Gould (1919), Hume (1915), Bunyard and Thomas (1904), E. A. Bunyard (1925, 1934), Mowry and Weber (1925), Cook (1925), Arnold (1926), Condit (1921b, as Lipari; 1947), R. A. (1937), and Preston (1951). Illustrated by Eisen, Price, Starnes, and Condit (1941a, fig. 2, B).
As explained above; the exact identity of this variety is uncertain, the name White Ischia having been applied after its introduction into England, where it proved to be especially good for pot culture and for forcing. Barron (1868c) thus gave his opinion of it: “The little white Ischia is very fickle in respect to quality; the fruits of today are excellent, of three days hence watery and tasteless; the tree bears fruit as profusely as a gooseberry bush.” Accounts of the variety in the southern United States are somewhat uncertain, because of the possible confusion of the White and Green Ischia. Starnes found Ischia White “decidedly the first choice” for Georgia, where the fruit shriveled and dried naturally on the tree in good seasons. In 1948, a tree of this variety was found growing at Grosse Coate, near Easton, Maryland.
According to Eisen, Ischia was introduced into California in 1853 by W. B. West, from a nursery in Boston, and in 1883 the California Nursery Company, Niles, received it from England. It was also brought in as P.I. No. 18,886 of the Chiswick collection. Large trees are commonly found in the Sierra Nevada foothills, and before 1922 there was a small orchard of at least eighty-four trees near McFarland in Kern County. One of the largest trees of this variety is on the place of Mrs. Nettie Sullivan, Grabner P.O., Fresno County, near the upper end of Millerton Lake; it is reported to have been planted by Wilburn Winchell in 1851. In Merced County an Ischia tree is growing in a dooryard at Plainsburg.
Although trees were grown at the early California Experiment Stations, the variety failed to receive favorable attention on account of the small size of the fruit. In good weather the figs dry partly on the tree and drop with little spoilage; they are also good for homemade preserves and pickles.
The tree has a dense habit of growth, with numerous small, short twigs; terminal buds are olive green in color. Leaves small, glossy above, mostly 3-lobed; upper sinuses shallow and narrow; base truncate, sometimes decurrent; margins crenate (plate 13). Description of figs is from specimens grown at Riverside.
Breba crop small or none; fruits below medium, spherical, with very short neck; stalk short and thick; eye rather large, open; color of skin green, tinged with violet; pulp light strawberry; quality poor.
Figs of second crop borne profusely; size small, averaging 18 grams in weight, up to 1-1/2 inches in diameter by 1-1/4 inches from base to apex; shape oblate to spherical, with or without short neck; stalk short and thick, or up to 1/2 inch long, sometimes swollen toward the apex; ribs narrow, prominent; eye medium, open, scales pink; surface dull, with faint bloom; white flecks scattered and inconspicuous, as shown by Condit (1941a, fig. 9, H); skin checking crisscross, discolored or blemished by circular brown spots at complete maturity; color green, flushed with violet; meat white, thin; pulp very light strawberry; flavor sweet; quality fair. (Plates 9; 15, D.)
Caprified specimens slightly larger and heavier; pulp deep strawberry; flavor somewhat acid.
Ischia Black (syns. Blue Ischia, Early Forcing, Nero). Described by Miller (1768), Hanbury (1770), Forsyth (1803), Brookshaw (1812), Green (1824), George Lindley (1831), Rogers (1834), Holley (1854), Dochnahl (1855), M’Intosh (1855), Hogg (1866), Thompson (1859), Eisen (1885, 1888, 1901), Coleman (1887b), Wythes (1890a, 1893), Barron (1891), Massey (1893), Burnette (1894), Starnes (1903), Starnes and Monroe (1907), Bunyard and Thomas (1904), E. A. Bunyard (1925, 1934), Hume (1915), Gould (1919), Mowry and Weber (1925), Cook (1925), Condit (1947), and Preston (1951). Illustrated in color by Brookshaw (1812) and Condit (1941a); in black and white by Eisen (1901).
Ischia Black was apparently introduced into England from the island of Ischia by Philip Miller, who described it as a black fig of high flavor, especially attractive to birds. Later English authors add little to Miller’s brief description. Wythes did not grow many trees, as he found the fruit to be of poorer quality than that of Ischia. E. A. Bunyard (1934), however, added this note to his account: “A variety for the epicure when flavor is valued.”
Ischia Black was obtained by the California Nursery Company from England in 1893, and about the same time it arrived with the Chiswick collection as P.I. No. 18,894. Trees have fruited in collections at Niles, Chico, Fresno, and Riverside, and at various state experiment stations. Individual trees of this variety are also commonly found in orchards of the Franciscana fig, and occasionally in dooryards. As Eisen commented in 1901, Ischia Black “is a common variety, but one which could easily be dispensed with.” The fruits are smaller, but otherwise comparable, fresh and dried, to those of Franciscana.
The tree is vigorous, upright in habit, with branches inclined to droop; terminal buds are reddish brown. Leaves similar to those of Ischia, medium to small; upper surface glossy, rugose; mostly 3-lobed, but often nonlobed; upper sinuses moderately deep and broad; base subcordate to truncate; margins coarsely crenate (plate 13). Description of fruit is from specimens maturing at Riverside and Fresno.
Breba crop fair; fruits medium or above, up to 2-1/4 inches long and 1-3/4 inches in diameter, oblique-pyriform, with a short, thick neck; stalk often 1/2 inch long or more somewhat swollen toward body of the fig; ribs narrow, slightly elevated; eye medium, open, scales purple; color purplish black; bloom conspicuous; meat thin, white, with a violet tinge; pulp strawberry; flavor fairly sweet and rich.
Second-crop figs small to medium, oblique-pyriform to turbinate, with or without a short neck; average weight 30 grams; stalk up to 1/2 inch long; surface dull, bloom fairly heavy; white flecks scattered, finally masked by black body color; pulp strawberry; quality good.
Caprified specimens similar in external characters to the uncaprified ones; pulp dark strawberry; seeds fertile, prominent. (Plate 27, C.)
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