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Seedlings and Caprifigs

Posted by crez Australia (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 15, 10 at 6:56

I have fig seedlings growing under apple trees in my orchard. Does this mean there is a caprifig nearby (I'm don't think any of my trees are caprifigs)? Does this also mean that the fig wasp is also present? If yes to both above does this also mean I can get edible fruit if I plant a caprifig or San Pedro type?

Thanks in advance for your helpful replies
David


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

Hello,
I have not done enough research to know if the fig wasp has been introduced and lives in Australia. The wasp for ficus carica would definitely not occur there naturally. Fig wasps are fairly specific to the different ficus species, so one species of wasp will usually not inhabit more than one species of fig if I am remembering this correctly.

Yes, if you have the wasp in your area, this might be true that a caprifig could be nearby although the wasp has been known to travel quite a long distance. Do you live in an area with lots of fig orchards? Are figs in your area grown for fresh eating or for the dried fig market?

Another question - is there any chance that someone has been eating dried figs on this property? The seeds would grow and this could be a source. Lastly, are you sure they are the ficus carica species and not another ficus that is growing under the apple trees?

Fig genetics are quite interesting and can be challenging to understand. There is information available on two very important traits - sex and persistence. I will refer you to a posting that I made on another forum that will help you understand some of what is going on with the genetics. Look at the posting #13 on the link below.

The short answer is that it is extremely unlikely that you will get fruit unless you actually do have a wasp since the progeny will include some Smyrna type figs (ones that require pollination).

Take care,
Ingevald

Here is a link that might be useful: Posting #13 - Growing figs from seeds


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

Recently I have seen three figs grow from what was probably bird scat as there were no other figs within a mile. From my reading a fertile fig seed is fairly uncommon, maybe 1 in 50, and the chances of getting a good fig are less then 1 in 4.

Two of the volunteer figs are too young to produce. If they produce figs this year I will try to post an update. One did produce figs but after the first crop they failed to ripen for several years so the tree was removed. Wasn't anything to write home about anyway.

Of the two remaining wild figs, one is a very vigorous plant. If it fails to produce figs I will graft a known good variety to it, there in lies the rub.

Let's say your chances of getting an viable seed let alone good fig from seed is 1 in 200. The thing is figs have a number of diseases and parasites that attack them. Plant a couple of thousand seeds and you are likely to get a few vigorous trees that are more disease resistant then commonly cultivated varieties and better suited to your local climate. Darwinism in action if you will. If you know how to graft then one root stock is probably as good as the next. IOW: 1 in 10,000 chance of getting a good fig but 100% chance of getting a root stock you can graft a good fig onto.

BTW: I live about 30 miles from the link. John Rock is credited with having ~27 varieties of figs he imported from all over the world. The volunteer figs I am seeing could be a result of his work in the 1800s.

Rick

Here is a link that might be useful: Calif Nursery


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

hey Rick, I hope you got some of the free trees from that nursery!


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

  • Posted by crez Australia (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 16, 10 at 5:30

Ingevald,
Thanks for your reply. I'll first answer your questions;
1) http://www.ento.csiro.au/aicn/name_c/a_717.htm suggests that the Capri fig wasp (Blastophaga psenes)could be present here. 2)I am not aware of anyone growing figs specifically for drying locally, just the occasional brown turkey here and there on sheep/cattle farms. there are commercial growers about 16 miles away who may have caprifigs. 3)I have eaten commercially dried figs (Greek) but have not defecated under my apple trees or left the dried figs where the birds would have got them.
All of my 25 fig trees are the common type, except a couple which may be 'adam' variety, which I believe is a san pedro type, although they look different from the pictures on figs4fun. If they are Adam, then pollination must be happening, as I have had good main crops from them. 4)There are no other ficus species in this area that the seedlings would be from.

Your questions are leading me to one of two conclusions;

1) There is a caprifig nearby that is pollinating my trees via the fig wasp, resulting in viable seeds from my trees.

2) The birds eating my figs have also eaten figs some distance away that have been fertilised by a caprifig there, and have carried the seeds to my orchard.

I will now read the post 13 that you have pointed me to.

Thanks Ingevald
David


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RE: Seedlings

  • Posted by crez Australia (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 16, 10 at 6:00

Rick,
You replied to one of my posts back in December about air layering. You were planning to try one after the tree went dormant I think. Any results?

I wasn't particularly interested in growing the seedlings, more interested in the presence of viable seed from my trees. I believe that viable seeds can't be produced without a caprifig (someone let me know if this is wrong) and wasn't aware that there were caprifigs in my area.
Apart from GM, the only way of producing new varieties is from seed, so it is a potentially fruitless but worthwhile game!

David


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

Australia has different native sub species of Ficus such as the Sanpaper fig Ficus Coronata which all require pollenation by the wasp. You might not have the exact same wasp that is present int he Middle east but you do have the wasp that can possibly pollination Ficus Carica as well.

Bass


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

David,

Thanks for your reply. Without a thorough study on the circumstances, I would venture to guess that birds are dropping the seeds. There is also a remote but reasonable chance that the fig wasp has ventured to your orchard and caused some of your figs to be pollinated. I'll send you a private note shortly.

Take care,
Ingevald


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

>You were planning to try one after the tree went dormant I think. Any results?

Yeappers, all bad. No visible signs of growth so the worries about it working on a dormant tree were well founded. We even had a couple of nights of freezing temperatures this winter.

I have maybe 10 samples on several different trees. I expect the trees to be dormant for another couple of months and will keep checking. No rooting compound was used, bark was scarred with pruning shears, 50:50 mix of peat moss with vermiculite, plastic bottles wrapped in aluminum foil to block out light. I think those are all the pertainent details.

Rick


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

  • Posted by crez Australia (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 20, 10 at 4:16

Rick,
I'm not sure what you mean by 'scarred with the pruning shears'. When air layering I removed a complete circle of bark from the branch about the same width as the thickness of the branch. The earliest ones I did just after the first leaves opened had good roots after 10 weeks. Later ones that already had a lot of leaf above the layer were well rooted after 5 weeks. I now have 45 trees, some in pots, some already in the ground, that I didn't have last year.

David


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

Scarred in this case meant cutting a flap of bark about the size of a fingernail and 1/8" deep. The flap was left attached to the branch. Normal for me is to stick a tooth pick under the flap to keep it from healing but I didn't do it this time. I figured I would just do a middle of the road technique since the range of things people do is nothing to almost severing the branch.

Of course as Confucius says, "Man who stand in middle of the road get hit by trucks going both ways." I know I am open to both ends of the argument as in I didn't do enough damage or did too much or I should have used rooting compound. I probably have a picture or two if my cuts need to be tied down better then 'flap.'

Rick


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

  • Posted by crez Australia (My Page) on
    Wed, May 19, 10 at 9:05

UPDATE : I took two figs (one brown turkey and one black genoa) and separated the seeds. I spread the seeds onto damp sphagnum moss in zip-lock bags and kept them in a warm spot. Both had at least 50 seeds germinate. I thought this was proof that my figs were being pollinated...until I read the following from

http://waynesword.palomar.edu/pljun99b.htm

9. Female trees may also produce apomictic seeds--i.e. without pollination and subsequent fertilization. In general there are two main types of apomixis:

[1] Parthenogenesis (agamogenesis): A haploid or diploid egg within the embryo sac (or diploid cell from 2 fused haploid cells of embryo sac) develops into an embryo. [Formation of haploid cells may involve crossing over during Prophase I of meiosis resulting in some genetic variability.]

[2] Agamospermy: An embryo arises from tissue surrounding the embryo sac. If this involves cells of the nucellus or inner integument it is called a nucellar embryo. Nucellar embryos are chromosomally identical to the sporophyte parent. They are essentially clones of the female tree. Apomictic seeds allow propagation of choice edible fig cultivars (female trees) without the transmission of viruses through cuttings.

would the above explain an unpollinated fig with large numbers of viable seeds, or is it a fairly rare event?

David


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

David -
This is a magnificent piece of information you have uncovered. The question about about the frequency of this event is THE question in my mind.

I am wondering if parthenogenesis would explain the phenomenon in the fig world when we say that "this is a mutation of so and so variety."

What an exciting bit of information!

Ingevald


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

My personal experience in India is that about 95 per cent seed of variety Brown Turkey germinate. Though in this variety wasp is not need for pollination.
Regards


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RE: Seedlings and Caprifigs

  • Posted by crez australia (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 3, 11 at 8:05

Rattan,
Thanks for your input. If the fig wasp is not needed for pollination, is pollen being deliivered another way or are viable seeds being formed without pollination?


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