Thursday, May 26, 2011

breba again


Breba* are back, larger, more abundant, and about 2 weeks ahead of last year's crop, despite the continuing cool weather, which is all the forecast holds at this point.

The fig trees, three of them, planted in early 2007, are now 8-10 feet tall and have been adding a couple of feet in height and width every year.

Fig trees are native to the arc of land from Pakistan to Portugal and have been cultivated for millenia. The fruit of the tree is actually neither fruit nor flower, but infructescence, a hollow-ended stem enclosing flowers and seeds. The small hole opposite the stem, or ostiole, provides access for a specialized small wasp that pollinate the flowers, but since the wasp did not travel as well as the fig itself, parthenocopic (literally "virgin fruiting") varieties were developed for growing outside of the fig's original geographic range.

The fig is a member of the mulberry family, and the mulberry fruit itself (pictured below) is a three-dimensional mirror of the fig, with flowers and seeds arranged facing outward along a central spine. Also in the mulberry family are dorstenia, a tropical plant with flowers and fruit arranged on a flat open surface, a structure intermediate between that of the fig and the mulberry.

With a little warmth, we'll have ripe figs, one of summer's real treats.











*http://www.kingbirdjournal.com/2010/06/breba.html

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