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  • A Fig by Any Other Name...

    Some may think that this subject is inappropriate at this time, but I hope that we can discuss it now and get it behind us. This topic in no way reflects anyone else's opinion other than my own, but I would appreciate everyone's comment, because it affects the community at large.

    The naming of "found" or unknown figs and basic naming convention.

    There's always heated discussions when someone names an unknown fig with an already known name. I agree with the people that believe that its a major problem. the result would be like a gardener buying and growing out seeds for Roma Tomato but winding up with Cherry tomatoes at harvest. There are usually several people that comment "it doesn't matter what the name is just as long as it tastes good", they are also the same ones that are looking to grow named cultivars due to the specific description and or pictures. IMO, As a Fig hobbyist and gardener it would be irresponsible to think that its OK.

    As an example recently I saw an offer on *bay for cuttings of VDB, they had almost a dozen sharp clear photos of dark figs and Leaves, its looks nothing like VDB, it looked like many of the dark Italian cultivars in circulation as "Mount Etna" types and sometime in the future this cultivar may be placed into circulation as Violette de Bordeaux. There will be questions then as now, as to how and why my cultivar is so different from your similarly named cultivar.

    Heated discussions have also been started when someone names an unknown without using "unknown" or some similar distinction in the name. I actually disagree with this as a necessary naming convention. If someone wishes to use unknown in the "new" name that's fine, but having a new name in and of itself already indicates that its different or "Unknown". Personally I have over 20 unknowns "found" in the Bronx and they are listed in my inventory with the prefix "Unk", but its not a convention that's necessary. Its only practical because it keeps them grouped together in my alphabetic listing. I don't think BryantDark, TimLight or any new name can be confused with anything else.

    One simple naming convention that has been used for years and should be replicated is using the initials of the source of the cuttings or plants as a suffix. Adriatic JH, Sals EL, Sals GH (Gene), Marseilles Black VS, etc are now known cultivars that were previously found or unknown. I have same named cultivars from different sources and by simply using the sources initials I'm able to differentiate them. Violette de Bordeaux EL, Violet de Bordeaux WC, Violette de Bordeaux TC, Violette de Bordeaux BR, Conadria EL, Conadria AE, O'Rourke PP, O'Rourke EL, etc.
    Last edited by AscPete; 02-21-2015, 10:16 AM.
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

  • #2
    I personally like retaining the unknown (unk) in the name. To me unless an unknown is grown out and general consensus by folks that have grown both out ( not just looking at pictures) that it is FIG ABC that it should remain unk xyz until the time that it becomes grown about and folks recognize it by name xyz. I know it is disappointing to discover a cultivar you are growing is likely the same as one you already have, but I think more damage is done by labeling a fig as a known when it is actually not. It’s really a detriment when a fig gets circulated that’s not true. A person shares it trusting their source with all good intentions just as likely their source did but somewhere up the tree someone made a guess. I don’t even like to give strong opinions on ID, as if a couple folks suggest the same name we see folks label it as such.
    The decision is really “many figs by one name” or “a fig by many names”
    Last edited by strudeldog; 02-20-2015, 06:39 PM.
    Phil North Georgia Zone 7 Looking for: All of them, and on and on,

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for commenting,
      Sadly "many figs by one name" and "a fig by many names" applies too often...
      If a hobbyist grows out a particular named fig cultivar, there probably is enough documentation available to check whether its correct or not especially as a member of a fig forum...

  • #3
    Well written, Pete. I don't think anyone here will be passing off uncertain varieties, fortunately.

    I would say I like the UNK moniker as it says (to me) it's not been grown long enough to say if it's unique or a known variety. I do see what you're saying though, Pete.
    Last edited by Kelby; 02-20-2015, 07:36 PM.
    https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
    SE PA
    Zone 6

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for commenting.
      I also prefer the "Unk" (as a prefix), but many times its dropped when referred to in posts or on labels and tags...

  • #4
    Very well said gents. It is my hobby to grow and identify Ukns . What fascinates me is the story behind those finds. Not many people"just grow" any fig! It was either brought by an immigrant to remind them of their home, they were often given to them by loved ones as a token of love,good luck, wishes of prosperity , you name it. Most Fig trees (if not all)came to this blessed place the same way and in the same form we trade them amongst us. As cuttings . Small sticks wrapped in clothes and hidden in a suitcase . To me it's like holding a living growing relic with a soul. I prefer naming them by name of location or previous owner if available . We have some great examples ( not mine) like the Carini, Atilio and of course Dominic's to name but a few. Finding out what type of fig they are ,is just a bonus!

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for commenting.
      I've become personally aware of many stories that are connected with "found" figs, some are regarded as family treasures. We may never be able to identify many because of the variability of fig trees, but we could agree on a simple method of organizing them.

  • #5
    My start in growing figs started about 10 years ago as a result of inheriting a fig tree from my brother's father-in-law who had recently passed. All i know is what my brother told me, he said that Pa Batista told him that the tree came from a cutting of a tree in his hometown in northern Portugal. But it may also be something that Pa bought locally at HD, Pa was known to tell a tall tale. I don't have enough experience with different varieties of figs to know what to call this fig other than Unknown. When I get pictures and figs later this year, i'll post pictures and hopefully we can identify it. For now, I'm calling it Unk Portugese JB but it could well be a brown turkey, celeste or chicago hardy Pa picked up at HD.

    I look forward to the identification of this fig but I think it would be wrong of me to call it something other than Unknown right now.

    So i guess I agree with Kelby that it's OK to call them Unknown until they can be further identified.
    Kevin (Eastern MA - Zone 5b/6a)

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for commenting.
      Naming a family tree and putting it into circulating with that name still maintains its identity as unknown. But once you compare it to known varieties it should be relatively easy to tell what its not and you may have to keep its given name if it can't be identified.

    • fitzski
      fitzski commented
      Editing a comment
      With respect to my "unknown" i'd like the help of the community to identify it whether or not I decide to share it. I have given a few trees to immediate family to carry on Pa's legacy but I have been hesitant to share it in the forums seeing I have no idea what it really is.

      Regardless of what it turns out to be (from Portugal or HD), Pa loved that tree and took really good care of it. When my brother and I removed it from his property it was 8-10 feet high and wide. My brother took the large tree and my brother gave me the small "bush" that was growing at the base.

      Part of me doesn't want to know if the "story" is true or not. I kind of like the story as it is now.

    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      And if it's identified the suffix will still point to the source of that particular cultivar.

  • #6
    I agree with Kelby that there is likely no disagreement here, but outside this community, those that don't see the importance of making effort to keep naming as pure as possible will still go on naming willy-nilly. Such a shame.

    Regards,
    billy
    Middle Tn. - 7a
    Seeking: Chiappetta. Cuttings or plant. P.M. me an offer please. ~billy

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for commenting,
      Historically its been a point of argument on the F4F fig forum. Reading through the archives you will find heated discussions in almost every year where similar blow up occurred over this topic. I started this topic at this time to "air it out".
      Last edited by AscPete; 02-21-2015, 01:22 PM.

  • #7
    I agree 'competely'. I think if someone has an unknown fig they should name it something reasonably simple. Anyone who cares about the fig will find the background thread and know it's history, so "unknown" is not necessary.
    Bob C. KC, MO Zone 6a. Wanted: Martineca Rimada, Galicia Negra, Fioroni Ruvo, De La Reina - Pons, Tauro, BFF, Sefrawi, Sbayi, Mavra Sika , Fillaciano Bianco, Corynth, Souadi, Acciano Purple, LSU Tiger, LSU Red, Cajun Gold, BB-10 any great tasting fig

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for commenting.
      I don't know if all of the newer members realize that when they introduce unknown figs into circulation to the forum community that they are also responsible for documenting leaves and figs with posted pictures. ; )

    • Harborseal
      Harborseal commented
      Editing a comment
      See, we need to be able to like comments.

    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      If you like a comment you could probably add a new post so everyone can see and like the post ; )

  • #8
    What you said on the bottom is also a very good point, keeping track of sources whether they be on eBay, nurseries, or forum members.

    Accidents happen,cuttings get mixed up, or dishonesty happens. I think just about everyone on here has a spreadsheet of figs. I try to keep dates (at least season) and sources for all the cuttings and plants I get. I've gotten cuttings with people's names attached too if ID is not 110%, which is nice. Ideally I'd keep track of who I have shared cuttings with, but they don't always get recorded and I lost all my PMs on f4f.
    https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
    SE PA
    Zone 6

    Comment


    • #9
      I like the idea of using unk at the beginning which to me indicates it would still be something already named. If it is ever identified as something else than all or part of the name could be added to the end. It may be that figs that are identified as Celeste may still be strains of Celeste. Often you see plants identified as a sport of another because one part looked different or had different type of fruit. A cutting from that branch would capture the new genetics and growth type but DNA testing would still say they were both the same. My though is that if that happens and you see it but what if the change is not visible but results in a new trait such as faster growth? As for tags and ID, well if you grow orchids you get used to changing them as the genetic experts keep redefining things based on DNA.

      Sharon
      NC Zone 7a-b

      Comment


      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for commenting.
        That's a good reason for keeping the Unk prefix!!
        The suffix is an established method of differentiating an individual cultivar... As an example I grow several different Celeste cultivars, Celeste EL, Celeste PP, Celeste AE, etc in an effort to find the best overall specimen.

    • #10
      Kelby,
      Thanks.

      What has happened historically is that when there is a mix-up whether intentional or not it leads to arguments . When some one points to the simple guidelines referred to in the OP they often get accused of being the "FIG POLICE" or worse. Not everyone uses spreadsheets but most here have tags on their plants where they can include the prefix or suffix to indicate the status and source of individual plants. One such discussion was the Genovese Nero, simply following the established convention by placing a suffix on the end could have been the temporary solution.
      Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

      Comment


      • #11
        Devil's Advocate:
        Theoretically shouldn't Galicea Negra, Maltese Beauty, Bethlehem Black, Gino's Black, Salem Dark, and many, many others be prefixed with unknown? At what point can the designation be dropped? How many people have actually tasted a Galicea Negra?
        Frank Tallahasee 8B
        North Florida Figs

        Comment


        • MichaelTucson
          MichaelTucson commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Frank. I was thinking of this same point that you make, but I couldn't have said this as clearly as you did here. It is a real question. At what point, indeed?

          I think of varieties like Hardy Chicago (so named in the 20th century in the U.S.), which was earlier known as Bensonhurst Purple (also named in the U.S., but earlier), and before that apparently known as Mongibello back in the old country. (Or maybe I should say "older country", because who knows if this variety had another name someplace earlier than Sicily?). So who in the U.S. calls theirs Mongibello rather than Hardy Chicago? Nobody called it "Unknown Chicago Hardy", or "Chicago Hardy Unknown", waiting to see if it would turn out to match some other known and already-named cultivar.

          Still, I applaud the efforts of folks in this community to avoid capriciously giving new names to a fig of some already-identified cultivar. But it requires each individual to apply some measure of discipline. I applaud it, and I try to follow their example.

      • #12
        Frank,
        Thanks for commenting.

        Yes!
        That's why I'm not a stickler for the use of the prefix...
        The suffix on the other hand should be included. Most of those would have Bass at Trees of Joy as the originator....((B? or TJ)
        The Maltese Beauty GM is also easy to identify. Their original names (If they had any) are unknown...

        Has anyone tasted a Galicea Negra??
        Last edited by AscPete; 02-21-2015, 09:32 AM.
        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

        Comment


        • #13
          Pete I thank you for the cogent and precise position you have taken, I agree with your points, and FMD as well. Part of the problem, and I said it over at F4F, was that any of us lucky to live in a fig-abundant neighborhood, can start naming figs and disseminating them. That is where the mayhem begins. Some people were just looking to create buzz out of nowhere. I prefer a more conservative attitude. Its fine if you are like Coop or Fitski and have a wonderful story and want to share and disseminate. Its fine if, like yourself (and myself, to some extent) you seek unknowns and experiment with some to see if they are productive, or tasty, or cold hardy. But I don't see it as particularly helpful to talk about a tree you saw on a side street or selling cuttings from it unless you can show others fruit profiles, leaves, tree shape, characteristics, etc.
          Rafael
          Zone 7b, Queens, New York

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for commenting.
            I would agree that if you are putting a cultivar into circulation that you should at least provide documentation of leaves and figs, or else how could you compare your results.

        • #14
          if anyone wants me to taste Galicia Negra and come up with a description, I'll be happy to do it...
          Pete, I think I understand this better now. As FMD brought up the point of some of these well-known but unknown varieties: Eventually the prefix disappears, but that's ok. Eventually the suffix gets attached to the good ones, which (to me) means they're worth collecting.
          In this great age of information, with photos of leaves and fruits, with people wanting to grow 2 or 3 or more varieties side-by-side for comparison, I have the rosy impression that we're going in the right direction.

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for commenting.
            Actually the suffix is rarely used.. As Frank has shown in his post of the names. I just simply remember the provenance of those cultivars...
            Adriatic JH may not be an actual Adriatic, but its a great fig and is easily differentiated by the suffix....

        • #15
          On a sort of related note, I'm doing some research into some apple varieties and came across this post on the old NAFEX boards:

          "This is a quite common problem. It has been discussed some time ago on the Cider Digest - most (if not all) people - including myself - that acquired Foxwhelp found they had something else, and that apple is now often called Fauxwhelp (meaning Falsewhelp). I was told that the orchard in England where the scion wood was originally taken for exporting in USA had many trees whose rootstock had taken over the variety, so we might have the stock fruit. Others think it might be a seedling of Foxwhelp. It might also be simply a tagging error...
          What is annoying is some people still think they have Foxwhelp and keep on dissiminating this false Foxwhelp. So, may this make you feel better, you are not alone in this boat!"

          This problem of mislabeled fruits is common through all types of fruits, intentional or not.
          https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
          SE PA
          Zone 6

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            The problem with figs is that it numbers in the hundreds...

          • Kelby
            Kelby commented
            Editing a comment
            Oh, absolutely. Just thought it appropriate to the topic.

        • #16
          As an example of the VDB cultivar mentioned in the OP...
          You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 5 photos.
          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

          Comment


          • Rewton
            Rewton commented
            Editing a comment
            Looks like a Mt. Etna type.

        • #17
          Good post Pete. I like the UNK label as it let's me know the fig might be some other known variety.
          Phil
          Zone 7A - Newark, DE; Zone 8A - Wilmington, NC;

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for commenting.
            I'm warming to the idea of keeping the Unk in the proper name of the fig for that reason.

        • #18
          Good records and labeling are very useful, whatever form they might take. That said, no matter how great the records and labeling of any particular cultivar with which you are working, it's often going to be necessary to triangulate - whether online or in actual presence - with specimens from other sources, comparing fruit and leaves and so on. It's so often necessary to triangulate, comparing your specimen to specimens from multiple other sources, because mix-ups happen in many ways. Triangulation can often help you figure out the basic cultivar of a fig tree - if not its particular strain - even when the source records are very poor or unknown.
          Tony WV 6b
          https://mountainfigs.net/

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for commenting.
            That's why being a member of a community like this is invaluable.

        • #19
          I am all for calling a fig variety by name, as long as we are certain what it is. Even initials are fine. I have found a few trees near my house, and have no idea what they are. Yet. Once they've grown enough to have mature leaves and a year of figs, maybe we can identify them by name. I posted pictures of the leaves and a dried-up fig from one of my finds on another forum asking for help in identifying it, and got several different responses. Is it a VdB? An RdB? A Celeste? It looks similar to an RdB to me, but is it? In my spreadsheet, it's an UNK-(location where I found it) until I know for certain what it is. I don't want to be the person passing a fig off as something if it isn't!
          USDA Zone 9b Wish list: Abruzzi, Pasquale, Filacciano, Tagliacozzo, Zingarella, Godfather. Any, including unknowns, from Abruzzo, Italy.

          Comment


          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for commenting.
            I believe that most members share your sentiment.

        • #20
          I agree in theory and for now until I actually find an unknown and see what it is like to get bit with the naming bug.
          Brian
          Carolina Zone 7b/8a Wanted: Col De Dame

          Comment


          • greenfig
            greenfig commented
            Editing a comment
            Brian,
            You can plan a fig naming trip to SoCal then! No bugs but many fig trees Practically, on every street at lower elevations.

          • Yeehova
            Yeehova commented
            Editing a comment
            We have them here too, but certainly not on every street corner. Most are in people's yards and most are probably Celeste or Brown Turkey. I don't go on fig hunts here. I am usually surprised to see them. They are much more plentiful in coastal NC, but I am a bit more inland.

          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for commenting.
            Its not just about new names. Its also about the known cultivars...

        • #21
          Brian, Igor
          Thanks for commenting...

          That's exactly why its important to the fig growing community and hobbyist...
          Its not only about unknown, found or seedling figs.

          It also about ensuring that we are trading and circulating the correct known cultivars.
          As an example, I have two (2) O'Rourke Cultivars. One was purchased from Edible Landscaping and the other from Petals from the Past. The O'Rourke EL is probably a Hybrid Celeste (improved Celeste), while the O'Rourke PP produces figs and leaves that are typical of the LSU O'Rourke. If you were looking to collect that particular cultivar you would probably be disappointed with the O'Rourke EL. But O'Rourke EL its currently being sold and circulated as an O'Rourke.
          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

          Comment


          • #22
            We have a lot of seedlings around here. I have seen them growing through the asphalt on my own street! This summer I was visiting a friend in a place called Silverado Canyon. He has around a dozen large fig trees that are definitely seedlings. They are growing out of cracks in between rocks in the creek bed, and one is coming out of a crack in a concrete retaining wall. So, these are NOT known varieties. They are new varieties, right? I collected some cuttings from the only one that he says produces good eating figs. I labelled the cuttings that are now in my bin as "Silverado", not "Unk. Silverado". I won't share them with anybody until I try the fruit myself, but if and when I do, would I be wrong to omit the Unk.?

            Comment


            • cis4elk
              cis4elk commented
              Editing a comment
              Well, there is the possiblility it is the offspring of a known variety that will carry many of the parent variety traits. Tricky stuff.

            • Yeehova
              Yeehova commented
              Editing a comment
              There its also a possibility that your possible new variety does better in my climate than yours! You might need future testers in each region for your variety.

          • #23
            I personally like the U. or Unk. attachment to a degree. It lets me now immediatly that this was a variety that someone found/discovered somewhere and may (or may not) be unique. I feel that a person doesn't have to constantly use the prefix, say for example you introduce a fig as Unk. at the beginning of a thread, no reason to keep slapping it on there because we all know what your talking about. The other scenario is the well known..unknowns, say for example Carini, we all know about it so in conversation we shouldn't have to keep saying it. We do however IMO have to use the prefix when distrubuting/selling the variety to others, until such time the community agrees we can probably just call it what it is..and who knows what that time period is.
            As far as the figs such as Maltese Falcon, Beauty... Those figs all had a generic GM number initially, and I think when a person wanders the country side of a land where figs grow wild and collects specimen samples; the likelyhood of them being an original is high. I feel this is slightly different in the US, where there is higher chance that many figs may have been purchased somewhere in the past and planted. The exceptions being those that were brought over from areas indigenous with figs, and areas like California where originals could be born.
            In short, labeling with U.or Unk. is good.
            Calvin, Wish list is to finish working on the new house, someday.
            Bored? Grab a rake, paint roller, or a cordless drill and come over!

            Comment


            • AscPete
              AscPete commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks for commenting...
              What you said... : )

          • #24
            Paul,
            Thanks for commenting.
            No-one would have a real problem with you naming a seedling without a prefix.
            Encanto Farms has named and circulated more than a dozen newly named seedlings.
            Things are a little different in temperate zones where the fig wasp is present, as Calvin mentioned. California has even classified Ficus Carica (Common Fig) as an invasive plant due to its fast and easy proliferation.
            http://www.cal-ipc.org/ip/management...number=182.php
            Attached Files
            Last edited by AscPete; 02-23-2015, 12:20 PM. Reason: added link...
            Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

            Comment


            • #25
              Unknown as a prefix, or a suffix?

              I support the use of "Unk" or "Unknown", but I like it as a suffix rather than prefix. My rationale is related to what Frank (FMD) wrote above in post #11 in this thread:
              http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...=2119#post2119

              I commented there as a post-specific comment, in support of his general point. (Comments there about Hardy Chicago, Bensonhurst Purple, and Mongibello). But I decided to add additional thoughts here: When it comes to naming and the process of identifying, and the potential for dropping the "Unknown" at some point (what point, and after how much attempt at matching with already-named varieties?)... anyway, take the hypothetical case of Jacksonville White Unknown. At some point, after attempts to match it to known already-named varieties fail, dropping the Unknown and changing Jacksonville White Unknown to instead be Jacksonville White has certain merits. Among them, alphabetization is preserved. Granted, for some activities there would be an argument on the merits of having the Unknown first. But I for one prefer the convention of Unknown at the end, rather than the beginning.

              Mike -- central NY state, zone 5a -- pauca sed matura

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