The eye of the fig, Oh really? explain please.

smittee(central florida)December 5, 2009

OK that seems like an odd point to bring up. I am having so much fun in the forum. I read every post, stare at every picture, take notes and read more. I am not saying I don't retain a whole lot, which is why I take notes.

Now I hear/see there is a lot of mention of the eye of the fig. So what is the deal PlEASE ie. The eye is open, the eye is red, the eye is closed. Does there happen to be any significance to the eye? thanks

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Hi Smittee, in your climate, you might want to stay away from large open eyed figs. They spoil and split easily in our wet & humid climate. They also seem to have more insects that enter the fruit and can cause spoilage also. Some have a drop of resin(honey) that seals the eye and helps prevent problems. I'm trying to stick to tight or closed eye varieties. I ordered some of the wrong types at first, not knowing any better. The red eye usually indicates a red or strawberry pulp. Hope this helps. I'm sure others will chime in. Tim

    Bookmark   December 5, 2009 at 10:37AM
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The eye of the fig is an opening at the apex.
It is a natural doorway for the tiny fig-wasp to exit/enter,
wherever it (wasp) exists and/or is required.

A small/closed eye is preferred for 2 reasons:

(a) it is harder for "other" insects to enter (and do damage).

(b) less water gets in when it rains (spoiling the fruit).
Also, if the eye points downwards (e.g. when fruit has a
long neck, making it droop), less water gets in.

A red eye usually is an indicator that the ripe pulp color is dark (e.g., red).
A white/green eye is usually an indicator that the ripe pulp color is light (e.g., amber)

    Bookmark   December 5, 2009 at 10:38AM
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smittee(central florida)

So I need to know what kind of eye my 5 little "children" (cuttings) have. I have a BROWN TURKEY, WHTIE GREEK, CELESE, BLACK GREEK and a GREEN ISCHIA. Thanks for the information.
I am sorry if I ask too many basic questions. I read and read all the posts I can. I feel I am reading from the experts but I hope I ASK questions that might interest other growers that have been bitten the "fig bug".
The good one.
I can see where this could get REALLY ADDITIVE. I guess I need to find a web site that gives this kind of informative information on each variety. I found some information on Figs4fun.
Ah I need a good book any recommendations?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2009 at 11:07AM
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The eye of the fig is located at the apex of the fig. Its size has nothing to do with it being "open" or "closed". The size of an eye is determined by it's outward appearance on the fig's skin surface. It can be a small, medium, or large eye.

"Open or closed' is a reference to the condition of the eye's outside opening leading to the interior pulp of the fig. Both water and/or insects can move through a fig's opening and do some damage. Insects carry yeast organisms to the interior of a fig making it ferment and turn sour. Water that enters it will dilute the flavor of a fig and make it easier to ferment and/or split.

Some fig eyes are sealed with Resin (Alma). Honey and resin are not the same thing. Resin is not soluble in rain or water while honey is very soluble. So........resin sealed eyes block both water and insect entrance to the fig's sweet pulp.

Some fig eyes are sealed with thick honey (Italian Honey). Honey will block the entrance of fig souring insects and a tiny bit of water. Thick honey that blocks the entrance hole is so high in sugar content that it will not allow fermentation if visited by insects carrying yeast organisms.

However, honey is very soluble in water and once rain dilutes the honey it can then be attached by yeast, fermented and turn sour. eyed honey sealed figs cannot take HEAVY rains. Heavy rains will dissolve the honey and make the opening available to those insects and further water entrance. Honey sealed open eyed figs do very well in dry climates and can take some light to medium rains in wetter areas.

A completely closed eyed fig is a very desirable characteristic for any fig growing in a hot, humid, rainy climate. However, resin and honey eye sealed figs can do quite well LSU Gold for instance.

From Cajun Country

    Bookmark   December 5, 2009 at 11:41AM
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FYI only...........Figs also have a "neck" and a "stem".....and they are not the same. The "neck" of a fig is the part between the main body of a fig and it's stem. Fig necks can be described as thick, long, tapering, no-neck, etc. A fig that is perfectly round will have "no-neck" to it.

The "stem" of a fig is the part between the fig's neck and where it attaches to the branch of the tree. Some stems can as long as 1 1/2 inches long and others are very very short. So............when reading descriptions and certain characteristics of fig stems and necks by knowledgable fig growers it is good to know they are describing two different parts of a fig.

Laissez les bon temps rouler........

    Bookmark   December 5, 2009 at 9:39PM
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Re: Your last question:

BT and GI have an open eye and Celeste has a closed eye. No info on the W/B Greek figs.
Be aware that the BT and Celeste are two of the most grown figs in
the USA and their names are/were often confused and/or abused.

On the F4F/FF, there is a thread showing data on (quite) a few figs.
USDA/UC Davis fig data
Look for descriptors fruiteye1 (Early fruit eye) and fruiteye2 (Main fruit eye),
with values C=Closed and O=Open.

Unfortunately, another list is required to translate the accession-numbers from the English-names,
e.g., BT=DFIC17, IG=DFIC52, Celeste=DFIC80, etc.
For such a list, see the link shown on
New accessions at USDA

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 4:05AM
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A bit more on other fig charcteristics...........

Another important characteristic of a fig is whether or not it has a void or "hollow" section inside of the fig. Open eyed figs which have a hollow section inside of the fig pulp, can and will house those nasty fruit souring insects.....this will cause fruit spoilage. Take a look at a cut Brunswick fig and you will see a classic example of an open eye, hollow pulp fig. Brunswick is notorious for not handling rain very well and/or going sour. Brunswick can be a real winner in drier climates yet perform poorly in wetter climates. An open eye fig with "Full" pulp is usually less prone to souring than a fig with "hollow" pulp.

So.........whether or not a fig has a hollow section or not in its pulp can play into how resistant a particular variety is to both rain (lost of flavor or splitting) and insects (souring).

Just so you know......a fig's pulp can be anywhere from very juicy (LSU Gold) to very dry (my strain of Hardy Chicago) and anywhere in between. Some people like juicy figs while others prefer their fig's pulp to be on the dry side.

Flavor.......flavor is not the same thing as sweetness. Sweetness is solely related to the sugar content of a fig. "Flavor", however, is related to the sugar to acid ratio of the fig juice and to the trace organic compounds contained in its pulp. These two parameters can give the fig a flavor similar to that of other fruit......strawberry, raspberry, mango, concord grape, peach, etc. Taste is a very personal thing and individual taste ratings will vary according to one's particular preference.......just like with wine preference.

Some figs have lots of seeds in them (Adriatics) while other have no noticeable seeds (Maryland Seedless). The seeds will not be fertile if taken from figs grown anywhere in the US but a certain area in California where the fig wasp lives. Fig wasps are those tiny insects that fertilize the female fig thus producing viable seeds. Some seeds add much flavor to a fig (Yellow Marseilles) while others add only a pleasant crunch with no added flavor from the seeds (Sal's,Dark Portuguese, Adriatic).

The meat of a fig is the part of a fig that lies between the outer skin of a fig and its internal pulp. The meat of a fig can be from thin to thick and its texture can vary quite a bit. The characteristics of a fig's meat seems to be what determines whether or not a fig will split under certain conditions. Fig varieties that "color stain" the meat of its fig seem to be the better tasting cultivars......I will closely watch this latter fruiting characteristic in my fig trials next year.....

Way down yonder near New Orleeeeens

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 5:37PM
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Regarding your fig "book" question; buy the
(cheap/modern) Ray Givan's "The Fig Booklet",
use the link below.
Ray is a (rather silent) fig expert from GA.
The booklet is more informative than the web site.
Believe me, this booklet was the reason I got hooked to
(them) figs, way before ANY fig forum ever existed.

Also, thanks to google, there exist 3 "oldie" books (on the web) about
figs by Hoggs and Ira Condit/Hilgardia that contain tons/tons/tons of
other fig info. Sorry, I do not have a ref to them, my old PC is caput!
I am sure other good fig people will chime in.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 7:41PM
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(Ooops) Ray Givan's link:

Here is a link that might be useful: Ray Givan

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 7:43PM
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Be sure to keep reading all of the posts on this forum and you will learn some stuff about figs that you will not find in any book past or present. Ray knows his figs.....but a lot of his experience was with pot culture. Many of us grow our figs in the ground.

South of Baton Rouge

    Bookmark   December 6, 2009 at 10:10PM
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