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  • Malta Black....not that impressed

    This was my second variety to produce figs this year (first was Celeste). I was super excited to taste this fig because it looked great, but the taste was bland. I would give it a 5 out of 10. I have heard others rave about this variety, so I am not sure what is going on here.

    It is summertime in Florida and we get rain, but the rain lately has not been excessive (as it can sometimes be).

    This plant is young, so maybe that is the issue (about 1.5 years old). But my Celeste is the same age and has produced far superior figs.

    I have a few more on this tree that are about to ripen, so I will see if this was a fluke. I will try and let the others get really wrinkly.

    But if I get some great figs from my other young plants, and this Malta Black remains bland, it might be up for grabs.
    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 2 photos.

  • #2
    Give the tree more time to mature. If it's up for grabs let me know.
    Proudly Serving in the United States Armed Forces, 2009-2017
    Everyone should have a green thumb

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    • newnandawg
      newnandawg commented
      Editing a comment
      Patience my friend. 😃

  • #3
    That's unfortunate. Hopefully the others are better. Malta Black is one of the varieties that I want to try to grow but I haven't been able to get viable cuttings yet. My notes list it as productive, hardy, tasty, and can fruit after dieback to the ground.
    Don - OH Zone 5b/6a Wish list: Zaffiro, Craven's Craving, Izmir/Iznot, Calderona, Campaniere, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Izbat an Naj, Blava Campenera, Makedonia Dark, Souadi, LSU Jack Lily, Violet Sepor

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    • #4
      That is not encouraging. I hope the others are better. I really have high hopes for this variety. Hermansur sells very nice cuttings of these on ebay later in the year.
      PPP
      Eatonton, GA zone 7b/8a

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      • #5
        M5allen, could you show the leaves on your Malta Black? I realized earlier this season that my MB leaves look a lot like those from Mt. Etna figs. I then did a search on the forum and saw a lot of variability. Thanks.
        Steve
        D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
        WL: Verdolino, Figue Jaune, Nantes Maroc, Lussheim

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        • eboone
          eboone commented
          Editing a comment
          I have a 2y old tree, will try to post pics tonight after work if it is not still raining

      • #6
        How old is the tree? True flavor usually takes 3 to 5 years to develop. Give it some time.
        Last edited by COGardener; 07-10-2015, 10:13 AM.
        Scott - Colorado Springs, CO - Zone 4/5 (Depending on the year) - Elevation 6266ft

        “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison

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        • #7
          My tree is almost 2 years old. I know, I know, it can take time for a tree to turn into a tasty producer. I'll be the first to admit that patience is not one of my virtues.

          I got a few figs off it last year and they were not very good either. The figs it produced this year at least look a lot better than last year's figs, so that is encouraging.

          I'll try to get some pics of the leaves. But my tree looks really rough at this point - it grew like crazy when spring arrived, but once it started putting on figs, the leaf growth slowed down a lot, so all the leaves that are on it now are old and really rusty. It is just starting to put out some new leaf growth again.

          I have heard Malta Black is not an Etna fig, but I think it has a lot of the characteristics of one - rough sandpaper leaves, and the leaf pattern that the other Etnas share.

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          • #8
            This post from last year shows the leaves on my Malta Black which are very similar (indistinguishable?) from the Marsielles vs Black I have growing next to it.

            http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox....75&postcount=1

            I obtained MB from a very reliable source at the same time I obtained a few other cultivars (but no Mt. Etnas) that have all proven by all reasonable measures to be true to type. If memory serves, the figs were a bit different than Mt. Etnas though. I'll pay closer attention this year. Please let me know if my leaves are similar or different to your MB.

            I also was not blown away by the flavor of my MB which was a 2nd year tree last year. On the other hand, I have it growing in one of the shadier spots in my yard - it probably gets 5-6 hours of sun per day.
            Steve
            D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
            WL: Verdolino, Figue Jaune, Nantes Maroc, Lussheim

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            • #9
              Malta Black is interesting to compare to Mt Etnas in both fruit and leaf. The fruit tastes in a sense like a cross between a Mt Etna and a Celeste, while sometimes larger than both. It might even be said that Malta Black taste approaches a cross between an Adriatic or a premier dark and a Celeste, given its strong strawberry flavor up front and then the lingering sheer sugary aftertaste (of a Celeste). But overall the taste is thinner than that of an Adriatic or a premier dark, and somehow less full than that of a Mt Etna. The sheer sugary aftertaste really thins the up front intense strawberry burst, for me. [that said, see the final paragraph below]

              I've compared the leaves of Malta Black to the Mt Etnas a lot because they can bear a very strong resemblance, at times.

              The clear difference that I've observed is that a Malta black leaf never gets 7 digits, while a Mt Etna leaf not infrequently does, especially while growing fast. That is, the Mt Etna leaf gets 5 lobes and 2 spurs (or thumbs, as some call them), while Malta Black has never shown here more than five lobes or 3 lobes and 2 spurs. [see final paragraph]

              The Malta Black leaf and the Mt Etna leaf can look identical or near identical when the Malta Black grows so fast that its 2 spurs look like the 4th and 5th lobes of a Mt Etna. Both cultivars appear then to have 5 near identical lobed leaves. So a fast growing Malta Black leaf and an average growing Mt Etna leaf can look the same. [see final paragraph]

              More often though, Malta black has 3 lobes and 2 spurs, while Mt Etna has 5 full lobes and sometimes 2 additional spurs, when growing fast. [possibly, but see final paragraph]

              I should add that since I've been comparing Malta Black to Mt Etnas only this year and last year, a larger pool of observations could show that the cultivars are ever more exceptionally similar or even identical. Steve's photos might well lead one to think so. Upon seeing his photo I check a third Malta Black tree here that I had not looked at closely this year and found that it in fact does have 7 digits: 5 lobes, 2 spurs. It looks to get slightly more sun than the other two Malta Blacks and is possibly better situated in pot. Will be interesting to compare the fruit this year to see if it is more in line with typical Mt Etna fruit. If so, the legend of the Mt Etnas grows, going by so many different names. I'll leave my post here as a caution about possibly drawing conclusions too quickly about the nature of cultivars, especially given the marked differences that can arise when fig trees are situated merely in different spots in the same yard. Fortunately too the entire thread seems to show how true to form cultivars can be even when grown at great distance from one another.
              Last edited by mountainfigs; 07-10-2015, 09:44 AM. Reason: additions and cautions
              Tony WV 6b
              https://mountainfigs.net/

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              • #10
                My Malta Black is on it's 3rd summer and came from a very reliable source so I believe it to be true to form. Last year I got to try it's first figs and they were good but not like Dennis puts it, WOW good. So I think I know what you mean on the taste. All in all it's still a good fig to have so don't panic and toss it, give it another year or two to grow into it's best. It can only get better in flavor not worse.
                Do your leaves look the same as mine do?
                You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 2 photos.
                Wishlist; Green Michurinska, St. Rita
                Tony
                Sarver, PA Zone 6A.

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                • #11
                  Last year I got 3 Malta Blacks and 2 were bland - they ripened in the cold. One was about average - it ripened in more heat. The plant was 3 years old. A 3 year old Salem Dark was much better. Can anyone else compare figs from a more mature Malta Black and Salem Dark?
                  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

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                  • #12
                    Interesting, my MB (from Herman) does not have leaves that remind me of the Etna family. I can see the lineage to the Celeste family in it however. The vast majority of leaves on my tree are in the same form as the leaf in Tony's 2nd picture at the 9:00 position. I'll have to see when I get home if there any with 5 lobes or thumbs, but my memory says they are all 1-3. Qaulity was excellent last year, this year it broke dormancy extremely late so I'm not sure I'll get to taste any of it's figs that will ripen under the best conditions.
                    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!

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                    • #13
                      Calvin, this is what I meant when I wrote that I saw "variability" in leaf shape that people have posted. Some seem Mt. Etna-like but most photos I have seen do not. The ones in post #10 do not look like mine at all. Hmm...wonder if mine is not true to type or...there's more than one MB strain. Maybe this would fit with what Mountainfigs has observed. Dang figs!
                      Steve
                      D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
                      WL: Verdolino, Figue Jaune, Nantes Maroc, Lussheim

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                      • #14
                        For what it's worth, Herman2 (Vasile) has emphasized that Malta Black is not Mt Etna, based on the number of leaf lobes "Malta B,has three lobes leaves" which bore out here last year but not entirely this year. And last year's main Malta Black tree was considerably more shaded than any of the three MB trees this year. I found the Malta Black taste last year quite different from a Mt Etna, so am very curious for a retaste this year. Tony's 9 o'clock leaf looks more like the leaves I see on Sicilian Black which I'll taste for the first time this year, though they are somewhat similar to my slower growing Malta Black leaves. I have 2 separate sources for the Malta Blacks: drivewayfarmer and Trees of Joy, though I don't know if they sourced from each other. Fruit seems well advanced on each of the three MB trees so should make for an interesting taste test.
                        Tony WV 6b
                        https://mountainfigs.net/

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                        • #15
                          Tony (mountainfigs) for the two different MB sources do you see much variability in the leaves? This year I will also compare closely my SalsEL, Takoma Violet and MvsB fruit appearance and taste with that of my MB. Hopefully I can at least rule out that it was mixed up with a Mt. Etna.
                          Steve
                          D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
                          WL: Verdolino, Figue Jaune, Nantes Maroc, Lussheim

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                          • #16
                            Steve, the 3 Malta Black trees are situated in different sized pots, sunk to different levels in the ground, receiving different amounts of sun, different ages, and so on. The leaf variations I suspect are due to those circumstances.

                            I'm beginning to wonder if Malta Black is actually a strain of Mt Etna prone to growing more slowly than most Mt Etnas for whatever reason, thus sometimes affecting leaf shape and fruit taste, etc.

                            That's just a guess though, at this point. It could be an entirely different cultivar sometimes masquerading as a Mt Etna, though I would hesitate to bet against Mt Etna currently. I should be able to taste about 20 different named varieties that are possibly, likely, or certainly Mt Etnas, most from multiple trees of each name this year. It would not surprise me if they all seem to be variations on the same cultivar, though I hold open the possibility that one or more could surprise.
                            Tony WV 6b
                            https://mountainfigs.net/

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                            • #17
                              Thanks for sharing your photos and info about Malta Black. Hopefully the flavor will improve with age.
                              Can you please post a few photos of your leaves? Thanks.

                              IMO its not a Mt. Etna type for 2 reasons, the leaf pattern and the ripening time. Malta black has leaves that are similar to Celeste and it ripens much earlier that Hardy Chicago (the standard of Mt Etna types). Marseilles Black VS would also not be a Mt. Etna type for similar reasons. BTW its been my experience that leaves are easier to compare when the trees are at least in their second leaf and late in season for more "mature" leaves.

                              Attached are photos of typical Hardy Chicago, Malta Black and Marseilles Black VS for comparison.
                              You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 4 photos.
                              Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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                              • #18
                                Here is my Malta Black from Steve. 2nd leaf
                                You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 2 photos.

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                                • Rewton
                                  Rewton commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  Brian, am I the Steve who sent it to you? I don't have it in my notes and my own tree was rooted Spring 2013. Maybe I sent you extra cuttings Spring, 2013? Anyway, looks like it is doing well for you.

                              • #19
                                A couple leaves from my Malta Black in it's second year (sorry for the poor photos, was getting dark and I was rushing):

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                                There were a few older leaves lower down on the plant without the thumb lobes or with very small ones but these were typical of the larger leaves at the top of the plant.
                                Ed
                                SW PA zone 6a

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                                • #20
                                  Update - I just had another fig from my Malta and it was outstanding. So weird how the figs I ate just 2 months ago were very bland (both were main crop). I didn't take any pics because I thought it would be another bland fig.

                                  I definitely need to learn a lesson on patience when it comes to figs - but patience is not one of my virtues.

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                                  • #21
                                    Glad it straightened up for you.

                                    Hmm, 2 months ago...Could the first one have been a breba?
                                    Don - OH Zone 5b/6a Wish list: Zaffiro, Craven's Craving, Izmir/Iznot, Calderona, Campaniere, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Izbat an Naj, Blava Campenera, Makedonia Dark, Souadi, LSU Jack Lily, Violet Sepor

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                                    • #22
                                      Don - I am positive both were main crop figs. Both grew on new wood. My tree starting making main crop figs early and then kind of took a nose dive during the dog days of summer, it is spitting out figs again.

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                                      • #23
                                        Originally posted by m5allen View Post
                                        I'll be the first to admit that patience is not one of my virtues.

                                        I can vouch for this
                                        Cutting sales have ended for the season. Plant sales will start March 1 at 8 eastern time. If it is still too cold in your area I can hold your plants till a date of your choosing.

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                                        • #24
                                          Originally posted by WillsC View Post


                                          I can vouch for this
                                          Life is too short to have less-than-delicious figs. But I am learning patience, wise sensei Wills.

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                                          • #25
                                            Patience is easily come by when you have other figs to eat.
                                            Littleton, CO (zone 5b) - In Containers
                                            N.E. of Austin, TX (zone 8b)- In Ground.

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