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  • Question on fig names - Celeste

    Hi
    I have a question on fig names.
    There are many figs which are often described as thought to be a Celeste variations.
    Could these be very similar because they are from the same parents?
    Is something like Celeste a strain of fig?
    That would account for some of the differences people see and taste.
    Just curious.


    Last edited by Gina; 03-02-2015, 10:34 AM. Reason: Add 'Celeste' to the title
    NC Zone 7a-b

  • #2
    I'm not sure I understand exactly what you are asking, but. . .

    Celeste is probably the most wide spread fig in the south. Some would argue Brown Turkey but lets just humor me on this for now.
    It is commonly called the Honey fig and it is very popular.
    Like anything that can be fooled with the Celeste fig has been "improved" and bred/cross bred, etc. many many times.
    Attemps to improve size, length of harvest, time of ripening, sugar content, etc. have all been tried.
    Some of these attempts produced figs that were sent out into the fig ether and became varieties that some folks value more then the original.

    If you think about it since so many Celeste fig trees have been grown there would have to be a certain amount of variation. It's been awhile since I looked it up but I think as a rule one in every 10,000 DNA replications results in a mutation. So with so many Celeste plants out there and a group of folks trying to refine or change certain characteristics there's bound to be some variations found or breed. Even without the wasp and using as a sample a group of clones there will still be pressure for change.
    And if that change is significant enough someone will try and make a couple of nickels by renaming it and claiming it's "improved".

    Celeste is one of my favorite figs and most southerners know it well, but it is human nature to want something better so many attempts have been made to improve it.

    Comment


    • #3
      The LSU fig breeding program, for one, used Celeste figs crossed with Capri figs to create new fig cultivars such as O'Rourke, Tiger, Champagne, and so on. Quite a few quality cultivars now with figs that have Celeste parentage.
      http://www.horticulture.lsu.edu/new_figs.pdf
      http://modernfarmer.com/2014/12/fig-man-campus/
      Tony WV 6b
      https://mountainfigs.net/

      Comment


      • #4
        How different are the LSU improved Celeste, the LSU Champagne and the "standard" Celeste?
        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

        Comment


        • #5
          Scott,
          That's why the Varieties List is being developed...

          but in the interim, here's some pictures of all three...
          Last edited by AscPete; 03-03-2015, 06:28 AM.
          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by AscPete View Post
            Scott,
            That's why the Varieties List is being developed...

            but in the interim, here's some pictures of all three...

            Agreed on the list.

            It is interesting how different the figs look on the outside, how simular is the flavor?
            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

            Comment


            • AscPete
              AscPete commented
              Editing a comment
              The flavors are different. The LSU Celeste figs are Hybrids of Celeste, but there were many hybrids that were not officially released, but were eventually put into circulation, they should be called "improved Celeste hybrid". The "improved" or "Blue" that's added to some Celeste cultivars are basically adjectives to indicate a difference trait or characteristic from the basic Celeste, but without an actual improvement other than selection. The pictured improved Celeste is an improved Celeste Hybrid.
              Last edited by AscPete; 03-03-2015, 06:26 AM.

          • #7
            I think the issue Sharon's trying to raise is that if you get ten in ground celeste trees from scattered places in the SE and grew cuttings from all of them in one spot they wouldn't act the same. Some would drop figs, some wouldn't. Drought and cold would produce different responses. The fruit and leaves would probably look similar but not necessarily identical. And yet they're all celestes. And I would agree that there seem to be more differences among celestes than between individuals of other varieties.

            BTW, I've heard the Celeste called the sugar fig, but not the honey fig.
            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


            • mountainfigs
              mountainfigs commented
              Editing a comment
              Sure, and I think something similar is going on with all the Mongibello (aka Mount Etna or Marseilles Black) strains: Takoma Violet, Dark Portuguese, Sal’s EL/GS, Salem Dark, Gino’s, Unknown #11, Jersey Fig, Martini, Don Fortissi Black, Hardy Chicago, Keddie, Hardy Pittsburgh, Hardy Hartford, Mount Etna Unknown, GM #11 (Sicilian Dark), Abba, NJ Red, San Donato (Calabria), Dominick’s, Black Bethlehem?, Macool?, Bari?, Rosetta?, Owensboro?, Hardy Cleveland?, Ginoso? Roundhill? …

              Those named varieties above (and many more) may all be strains of the same Mount Etna cultivar. Some may be significant sports. Some may be their own cultivar. Most may be virtually identical in leaf and fruit, etc. Salem Dark is said to be more vigorous than most of the other strains. Marseilles Black is said to be more productive. Takoma Violet is said to produce more breba. Hardy Chicago is said to be more easily damaged by cold. And plenty of contradictory evidence exists as well. Mutations are going to happen. Mix-ups in labeling and variations in growing conditions (sometimes undetectable) are going to further complicate sorting it all out.

              Some Celestes are said to fruit after dieback to the ground, some are said not to. Some Celestes seem to have jagged lobed leaves, some seem to have smooth lobed leaves, some seem to drop figs, some seem not too. As with the Mount Etnas, I've seen a little bit of many of these results firsthand and like many have been making informal (non-scientific) records. It seems that more people possibly for longer have been paying more close attention to naming and observing Mount Etna varieties than Celeste varieties or Brown Turkey varieties.

              I wonder what would have been the results if Dr. O'Rourke had chosen to work with Mount Etna figs rather than Celeste figs. I find Marseilles Black, for example, to be more flavorful than Improved Celeste, let alone Celeste, though both of those Celestes are very good and may have higher sugar content. I wonder what an Improved Marseilles Black hybrid would be like. Taste like a Barnisotte but ripen earlier and be hardier? And if humidity and rain resistance of the Celestes was the deciding selection factor for Dr. O'Rourke, is Celeste really much or any more resistant to humidity and rain than the Mount Etnas?
              Last edited by mountainfigs; 03-02-2015, 02:16 PM.

            • noss
              noss commented
              Editing a comment
              Hi Bob, Celestes are referred to by all kinds of names and honey, is just one of those names. I guess because we live in LA, we've just naturally seen the name, honey fig because they're all over.

              Unfortunately I got two really large Celestes that hate hot, dry weather and start spitting off their fruit at that time, almost immediately. (Sigh) Have been trying to find Celestes that don't do that, but it's not easy. Thanks to several forum members, I've gotten Celestes from different places and I'm real thankful for their generosity.
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              Mountainfigs, I can't get all worked up about the names of figs because in the old countries, they'd have the same variety in different villages and they'd all have different names for the same figs. The important thing is to EAT the figs you like the best and ENJOY them to the fullest with friends and family every day and at celebrations as is tradition of the people who gave us these wonderful figs. They signify family, friends, home and good times with those people in our lives. Figs are more than mere fruits, as good as mere fruits are. Figs have meaning and give meaning to life and home. Look how immigrants brought fig cuttings with them to this country and I ask blessings upon their precious souls for having done that. My grandparents had two wonderful fig trees in their back yard and that was part of what was so good to be there with family. Gramma would sit at the little enameled table under the little kitchen window and be peeling figs and I, as tiny as I was, would reach up over the top of the table and be eating them as fast as she was peeling them and no one EVER scolded me. At a very young age, I learned to know when a fig was ripe enough to pick and eat and I did that, too. I even learned that a fig that was ripe, but not dead ripe, was delicious, but could still irritate one's mouth with the slight latex it had left in the skin, and it needed to be split open and have the insides scraped off the skin with my teeth. BUT, when out there with the trees by myself, I learned that when the figs were just a little more ripe, almost at the turning point, the skin lost the latex, got thinner and had a sweet flavor that made the figs even better.

              If I even think of a fig, I'm instantly transported back there to family, love and happiness of those summers spent with Mom's family, so I understand why immigrants couldn't leave home without their fig cuttings. I know many others do understand that as well and that is what figs mean to me. I have no idea what the figs my gps had were called. Today, I wish I did, so I could try and find some, but that can't erase those strong memories those figs put into my mind and heart. Thanks for listening to my story.

              I like to know what name a fig goes by because I just like to know those things, but the feelings far outweigh that.
              Last edited by noss; 06-10-2015, 02:27 AM. Reason: Edited because I wanted to talk to Mountainfigs, as well as Bob.

          • #8
            Perplexing.

            thank you for the help
            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

            Comment


            • #9
              Thanks for the answers.
              This is how I see it.
              Anything that is a hybrid of Celeste is not Celeste. So Celeste X Fig Y would be a new fig seedling and if worth while then would get it own name. In orchids all of the seedling would be identified by the cross name. So say new cross would be SuperFig seedlings. Now say out of 100 seedlings 8 were worth keeping. Each of those would be SuperFig 'Wonderful' Superfig 'Best Yet" ect.

              To my mind it would be easier to label the varieties with Celeste 'Honey' or Celeste 'JT'
              For orchids I register any new cross with the RHS. I get to name the cross if I'm the first to make it. Anyone repeating the cross uses the same name. Anyone can pick a cultivar name for an outstanding offspring but the only cultivar names that are registered are those that are awarded.
              With genetic testing it could be possible to start sorting these things out. If something was considered a Celeste but had unique traits then adding a cultivar name would help identify it rather than lump them all into Celeste.
              NC Zone 7a-b

              Comment


              • noss
                noss commented
                Editing a comment
                Sharon, It might be easier, but it's never going to happen. I've gotten so that I would say I'd want a cutting, or air layer of a fig I tasted and loved and never mind the name because I'd want something from THAT particular tree. Even then, it depends upon the weather conditions, how they would taste. I get figs from my Celestes that taste different from other figs on the same tree.

                At least with orchids, you're looking at colors and conformation. Even though figs have that, they're not as easy as flowers.

            • #10
              Well said Sharon, well said.
              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

              Comment


              • #11
                This is a good thread and very informative. I would like to point out that there never was a fig developed by Dr. O'Rourke that was named "Improved Celeste", all LSU figs were "Improved Celeste" because of the use of the Celeste as the base fig. Dr. Johnson told us at the LSU Fig Field Day that if there were a fig that was the "Improved Celeste", it would have been the O'Rourke. The only thing I am not 100% sure of is the fact that the Celeste was the base of "all" LSU figs. I wonder if the LSU Gold is a Celeste hybrid.

                Not picking only clarifying.

                Glad to be here,
                Danny K
                Wish List - Any LSU fig

                Comment


                • noss
                  noss commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Hi Danny K, Most often, the Hunt and Celeste are named the "mother" figs, bred to a dark, caprifig and I think it was an edible caprifig. Herman has said he thinks they also used a Brown Turkey mother fig. I forget why he came to that conclusion.

                  I think, from the shape, the LSU Gold took on the shape of the caprifig, but don't know what the dam is. How did it get yellow if the caprifig was dark? Maybe the Hunt is the dam because it's a yellow-tan fig.

                  noss

              • #12
                To clarify all the LSU Celeste figs are Celeste Hybrids, LSU Golden Celeste, LSU O"Rourke aka LSU Improved Celeste.

                Many of the "improved Celeste" are simply Celeste with adjectives attached, some are actually Celeste Hybrids from LSU that were put into circulation by some means.

                IMO, ~95% of "Celeste" trees are easily identified as such by the figs and leaves, even though there is some variability.
                ~5% can be identified as "improved Celeste hybrids" by their figs and leaves.
                The O'Rourke is Quite distinctive and its unfortunate that when it was released by LSU their documentation specifically noted it as 'their Improved Celeste'. This caused all the "improved Celeste" hybrids in circulation to be renamed O'Rourke.

                Even though a Celeste is renamed, like the Creech Family fig, doesn't make it less of a Celeste.
                Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

                Comment


                • #13
                  Originally posted by dkirtexas View Post
                  The only thing I am not 100% sure of is the fact that the Celeste was the base of "all" LSU figs. I wonder if the LSU Gold is a Celeste hybrid.
                  That is a good question, Danny. LSU Gold really does not look much like a Celeste, does it? I thought that I read somewhere that the Hunt fig was also used in Dr ORourke's work, I'll have to se if I can find that source. LSU Gold does not look like Hunt either (nor does Hollier).

                  I guess the caprifig genes added something.
                  Ed
                  SW PA zone 6a

                  Comment


                  • #14
                    Ed,
                    The LSU purple is reputed to be a [Hunt x Capri] hybrid...

                    Hollier is reputed to be a [Celeste x Capri] hybrid...

                    Joe Hood (Mountainman0826),
                    I spoke with Dr. O'Rourke in 2004, when he was 80 years of age. In my notes from that brief conversation, I recorded that he told me that Celeste was the female parent of Hollier (one of the figs from the LSU breeding program).
                    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

                    Comment


                    • #15
                      Danny, this attachment will answer your question about the LSU Gold,



                      Attached Files

                      Comment


                      • #16
                        Very nice paper. Will read it complete and have added it to my fig file.
                        NC Zone 7a-b

                        Comment


                        • #17
                          I don't know what the long-term intent of the "Articles" portion of this forum is -- but it seems like a great place to archive "articles" like the one MSfiglake just posted. There are a few other LSU publications that would fit equally well there.
                          Jim
                          Jim -- Central NJ, Zone 6b

                          Comment


                          • #18
                            Pete,
                            It is worth elaborating on the fig you brought up in post #5 and referred to again in post #12, namely "the improved celeste that is not O'Rourke." This is an "improved celeste" that was bred by LSU but not officially released by LSU. As Pete notes, however, it became known as "Improved Celeste." Then, as Pete notes, when LSU officially released O'Rourke as its "improved celeste," many people mistakenly changed the labels of their "improved celestes" to read "O'Rourke." However, it is important to note that some people consider the the unofficially released version to be better than O'Rourke! So much so that they've taken to referring to it as "Improved Celeste O'Rourke Not," or ICON, to help underscore the distinction!
                            Jim
                            Jim -- Central NJ, Zone 6b

                            Comment


                            • AscPete
                              AscPete commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Thanks Jim.

                            • noss
                              noss commented
                              Editing a comment
                              In all this time, I've never tasted a truly ripe O'Rourke fig! It's killin' me!!!

                              But, the O'Rs don't seem to bear as many figs per tree as the improved Celestes. However, O'Rs are superior in resisting splitting and souring in the rain and iPs will split and sour and let bugs into the eye. They are delicious, yes. They have a good, added quality that regular Celestes don't have. Regular Celestes don't split and sour as easily as iPs. In the right weather, they're all scrumptious!

                          • #19
                            Again, this is a great thread on the LSU Fig program. I do not agree on the use of the "NOT" with any name, it is "cute" but does not belong in a serious discussion, in my opinion. I think you could use "Variant" as a description enhancer. Just my opinion.
                            Wish List - Any LSU fig

                            Comment


                            • noss
                              noss commented
                              Editing a comment
                              We started using, "Not," to designate that we got a certain fig that was supposed to be this, but it's NOT. It's part of the history of the fig, is all. It's good information to know what a fig was supposed to be, but isn't, for reference purposes. I don't know why anyone else says it. Perhaps for the same reason.

                          • #20
                            I really wish we, as a community, would develop a set of guidelines for the names and descriptions of figs. Maybe one of these days we will evolve to an association with all the formal trappings of associations. Right now it is kind of like a "mob rule" situation with little or no real credentials, which will impede any real recognition of our community. Some may like it that way, some may not, it is a tough question.
                            Wish List - Any LSU fig

                            Comment


                            • #21
                              Celeste is a fig variety that's been around for a while in the southeast. there are many different cultivars but the flavor profiles are typically the same, they're in the Sugar Group with sweetness ranging from sweet to extremely sweet and mild seed crunch. There are several leaf variations which can range from entire (unlobed) to 5 lobed. The figs will often range from turbinate to long necked dependent on cultural variables. Attached are Celeste photos from this season. When fully ripe they're very sweet with a light brown sugar like flavor which reminds me of Dates.
                              Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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