Afghan fig

So, I’ve been researching a bit about figs, and I would love to find a species that could survive in my climate (USDA Hardiness zone 7a).

I’m a strong believer in getting seed from similar climates (or, at least the most closely related climate and hardiness zone I can find).

That led me to discovering Ficus Johannis ssp. Afghanistanica, and I thought that could be an interesting species to try growing :innocent:

But, it’s nearly impossible to find seeds from this species/cultivar… There are european and american cultivars of afghanistanica, but I’d ideally like to get seeds from the coldest areas in its habitat. This would mean mountainous regions of Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan etc. I do realize they have a far drier climate than me, but undoubtedly, there are regions that have extreme low temps similar to zone 7a.

But I have several questions:

  1. Will this species self pollinate, or do it need a highly specialized wasp to bear fruit?
  2. Do you know any places where I can get seeds directly from the mentioned regions, or that indirectly have origin in these colder regions?

Thanks!

People are growing figs in 7a/b outdoors. (I know I am.) People typically propagate them from cuttings so you get a tree that sets good fruit in a predictable way.

I’ve never dealt with them, but I found seeds for them here: Afghan Fig — Wanderlust Nursery

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the afghan fig and the common fig (carica) are dioecious, like around half of the nearly 1000 species of ficus. so if you grow the afghan fig from seed, around half the seedlings will be male and the other half will be female. i’ve never heard of any afghan figs that will ripen without pollination. but there are plenty of carica varieties that will do this. so the afghan fig is kinda like the wild ancestor of carica.

when i was in afghanistan the afghan fig was growing on the outskirts of villages, sometimes on walls, obviously the seeds were planted by animals, while carica was growing inside the villages, obviously planted by people. i’m sure the afghan fig and carica naturally crossed, seedlings would pop up here and there, and people would select for the varieties with larger fruit.

interestingly though, the afghan fig doesn’t grow easily from cuttings. so even if a hybrid had big tasty fruit, but it couldn’t grow from cuttings, then it wouldn’t proliferate by people.

i don’t get the sense that the afghan fig is significantly more cold tolerant than carica. but i wouldn’t be surprised if the afghan fig is significantly more drought tolerant than carica. this is interesting for places like here in southern california. this year i observed numerous female fig wasps exiting my male afghan figs. most of the wasps were caught in the web of a well-fed tiny spider. but i’m sure at least a few managed to escape, covered in afghan pollen, to find female carica figs to pollinate. if it is the case that the afghan fig is more drought tolerant than carica, then the hybrid seedlings will colonize california faster than the carica seedlings. if a fig seedling is found in the surrounding dry hills, chances will be good that it’s a hybrid.

the big question is, how many other ficus species could be crossed with the afghan fig and carica? an easy way to test for cross-compatibility is by testing for graft-compatibility…

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I have had Zero germination for a couple of other seeds from Wanderlust Nursery. I contacted them they never replied.

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I grow trees 100% from seed, so only seeds are an option for me. However, if carica is viable in 7a, I could just as well get carica seeds :thinking:

However, where would I get seeds with a good progeny for cold tolerance and WET weather? :innocent:

I also want punica granatum seeds from cold tolerant climate. :sweat_smile:

Thanks for the reply, btw!

Well Mt Etna types are the most cold tolerate I have seen. Smith with its thick skin on
fruit tolerates wet conditions well. The only practical way is to start with crosses of these. Finding a good male would be hard, it would have to be persistent ( common) too.
I thought about breeding figs but it’s too much work. I do enjoy the hundreds of fruits I get here in 6b though growing in containers. I do have some seedlings I have grown out. Not sure what I’m going to do with the males yet. I may discard them.

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