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Fact sheet: Celeste Fig


The fig (Ficus carica L; family Moracea) originated in the Old World Tropics—Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region. In the Mediterranean, the fig has been cultivated since as early as 5,000 BC.

The fig tree was first introduced to the Americas in 1575 by Spanish explorers in Florida. On the West Coast, in the area that eventually became the State of California, Spanish Franciscan missionaries introduced the cultivar, Mission, to the area that, in 1769, became the mission San Diego. Additional fig cultivars were also imported to the California area from Mediterranean countries, including Turkey.

Because some of the imported figs required pollination by the fig wasp (Blastophaga psenes), the absence of this wasp led to an initial failure of fig cultivation on the West Coast. This impediment to cultivation was remedied by the importation of the fig wasp.

The fruit of these fig cultivars had open “eyes” or ostioles (opening at the fruit apex) and were often attacked by insects and diseases. Scientists—including Ira J. Condit, William B. Storey, and others working on genetic improvement of figs—released new cultivars with closed eyes, cultivars that did not require pollination. Additionally, many fig cultivars were imported from the Old World within the last 50 years. Currently, however, no fig-breeding programs remain in the United States, and among at least 60–100 named cultivars of figs, relatively few are commonly grown in the southeastern United States.

Scientific name: Ficus carica ‘Celeste’

Fact sheet: Celeste Fig

Planted in Nassau County Extension Demonstration Garden