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  • Black Bethlehem

    Yup, another variety thread, hopefully everyone is enjoying these. Today we have Black Bethlehem. Found in 2007/08 by Bass in Bethlehem, PA (zone 6b). The mother tree is growing in a Greek man's yard in a Greek neighborhood, so it's assumed (but not confirmed) that this variety comes from Greece. The tree is never protected but rarely dies back and fruits well every year, it is planted near a wall in a town, however, so it gets some protection in that way. During the polar vortex (winter 2013/14) it died back to about 1-2' but regrew and fruited well.

    It has good, very sweet fruit that are generally early in the season, a little on the small side. I don't believe it gets many/any brebas.

    The following is Bass's photo of the mother plant from several years ago, hopefully he doesn't mind me posting it here:

    The next 2 are newnandawg's fruit photos (that's Mike!):

    I have a young plant but apparently I never took any leaf pictures to share, does anyone have a good leaf photo?
    SE PA
    Zone 6

  • #2
    I have 3 young cuttings of this one just rooted and leafed out, looking forward to trying in the future. Seems to get consistant praise.

    I have seen it listed as a Mt Etna variety, although if really from a Greek source maybe it is just similar to them.
    SW PA zone 6a


    • #3
      Ed, I didn't find the leaf shape to match other Etna types, personally. It does share other traits though like hardiness.
      SE PA
      Zone 6


      • #4


        • #5
          Thanks for these variety threads, it just shows me how many varieties I don't have and might do well in my area. I'm not sure how I'm going to sneak them all by my wife though
          Kevin (Eastern MA - Zone 5b/6a)


          • Kelby
            Kelby commented
            Editing a comment
            Glad you like them! I'll share info all I can but I can't help with your wife, sorry!

          • arachyd
            arachyd commented
            Editing a comment
            Tell her you're plant sitting.

          • Go_Figger
            Go_Figger commented
            Editing a comment
            I second that, these threads are very helpful. Thanks Kelby

        • #6
          Black Bethlehem was one I intended to try this year. Didn't get a hold of one, but I have been able to get so many others I wanted.
          Arne - Northern NJ - Zone 6A


          • #7
            cant someone ask the greek owner the real name?
            it looks like many of my local black greek figs.
            andreas-patras Peloponnisos Greece zone 9a


            • #8
              I have a couple of cuttings rooting right now, it is great to know the back story on them. Keep the profiles coming Kelby!!!
              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


              • #9
                Black Bethlehem fruited for me last year as a 2nd year tree. It grew fairly well compared to my other two-year old trees, a list of which I won't provide because it would be too much work to figure that out - just not that organized. It likes to sucker, as Bass' photo above shows. I'm no fig ID expert or Mt. Etna fig expert, though I have several of them, but it wouldn't surprise me if BB was unrelated to the Etna figs.

                While there are some similarities in the look of the fruit, the taste is different enough to me to believe that if it is an Etna, it's a more distant relative from those I've eaten thus far. I found it juicier and a little less intense than my Etna's, but that's no criticism. It was in my top 10 list for last year and was better than Hardy Chicago, which had an off year in my garden but has been great in years past, and Marseilles Black VS, which is always good, but has yet to register great for me. This one is easy to recommend.
                Reno, 6b


                • Bijan
                  Bijan commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Is this the one that traveled through Puerto Rico?

                • Posturedoc
                  Posturedoc commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I'm not sure about that. I must of missed something about BB traveling through PR before it arrived in Pennsylvania (if that's what we're discussing here).

              • #10
                I have this fig in ground as of last spring. It is looking very good with no protection other than a couple of inches of pine straw.
                It is protected from the wind by being planted on the south side of my house. I realize I am not up north and deal with that type
                of weather. We have had a couple of mornings in the single digits and many in the teens. Highs have been mostly in the 30's
                and 40's. Just a bit of information to help you judge its hardiness.

                As for its production it did pretty good for a first year tree. The taste was very good and I believe I gave it an 8.5 on a 1-10.
                newnandawg 7b Newnan, GA


                • Twernli
                  Twernli commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Is it possible this is kesariani? A dark fig, cold hardy from Greece. Have you compared the two?

              • #11
                I had mine die down to the ground in a pot,was about to throw it out and saw it was showing signs of growth. It came back by the end of the season to be about 3 feet tall.


                • #12
                  I also grow this variety in Russia. At the moment - in a pot of 20 liters (about 6 gallons). Fruits are below average size, but plants are productive. Good taste.
                  You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.


                  • Fygmalion
                    Fygmalion commented
                    Editing a comment

                • #13
                  I really appreciate these threads that highlight varieties. Any chance on updates to this variety?! How're those trees doing with our wonky weather? Ordered a BB from wills as my contribution to web fees, & possibly a few more to cover me for the year lol
                  wnc Z7a Hominy Valley - fig sales at happyvalleyenv.com/shop


                  • ginamcd
                    ginamcd commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Can't help on the variety, but just wanted to point out that Wills accepts donations for web fees. From what I've read in his posts he sells cuttings and plants to support his nursery business and, in turn, earn an income. So if you want to support web fees, hit the donate button on the main forum page and send him funds towards forum expenses.

                • #14
                  I have a 5 yr old BB in a 25 gal. and last summer it was a SWD magnet. But the few I tasted were bland, am I the only one? Hopefully a good root pruning will help this coming summer, otherwise, it's time to go.
                  Zone 6B. Lehigh Valley, PA


                  • #15
                    Just to add to the thread. Leaf shape, but color a little off due to sunlight. Click image for larger version

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                    Dave- Waterford, Ct. Zone 6a


                    • #16
                      I’ve got BB in pots, 2-3 yr trees last summer. Fruit was outstanding.
                      Joe, Z6B, RI.


                      • #17
                        Just put mine in the ground several weeks ago, got it small last spring and up potted, it was a good grower and gave me a little fruit that I thought was excellent. Hope to see it flourish in the ground this year, definitely a keeper
                        Joe zone 8b Grants Pass, OR.


                        • #18
                          Another one I'm looking forward to got one last year from Bass it stayed small but is starting off good this season in a three gallon tall root pouch
                          JLB zone 8b south Mississippi. Wish list really good figs thay don't split with all this dang humidity


                          • #19
                            Rethinking last season this fig has been extremely generous with fruit. Fruit was smaller & darker than Etnas and packed a big grape forward fruit punch flavor rather than straight light berry notes. Id agree it may be a non-Etna, though very close. Smaller & more pungent! Might need to treat it to an up-pot! Yum Click image for larger version

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                            wnc Z7a Hominy Valley - fig sales at happyvalleyenv.com/shop


                            • #20
                              This are all pictures I have of Black Bethlehem that I grafted last spring.
                              😆 I just released that it's an older post, anyway here it is one delicious fig, not that far from Hardy Chicago.
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                              Leaves and fruit resemble Hardy Chicago.
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                              • jessup42
                                jessup42 commented
                                Editing a comment
                                Hard to argue with this. Im yet to try my hardy Chicago ingrounders. Didnt keep any in pots like i did w Black Bethy. Thanks for a great addition to the thread.

                            • #21
                              Originally posted by moonlight View Post
                              Leaves and fruit resemble Hardy Chicago.
                              From the first photo in post №1 it is clear that the fruit is of the Etna type fig, even without a photo of the leaves.


                              • jessup42
                                jessup42 commented
                                Editing a comment
                                Looks & taste sometimes can shock &/or surprise for better or worse. Dark figs w red inside are so dime a dozen in the fascade, but the depth on the tongue may say otherwise