A Gardening Journal

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: 'Jolly Tiger' Fig in Fruit

Like Heinz pickles, variegation comes in many flavors: When leaves are speckled, striped, bordered, splashed, sectored, or tipped in a color or colors other than green, they are variegated. But roots that are multicolored aren't described as variegated; they are just multicolored. Bark with many colors isn't called variegated either. It is usually catagorized as exfoliating, because multiple colors are often revealed as portions of surface layers fall away. And, while the patterning of multicolored flowers does have descriptors (picotee, radial, broken, e.g.), the flowers still aren't described as variegated.

 

Fruit is colorful almost by definition but, as with flowers, roots, and bark, there isn't a "fruitish" term for being colorful. Fruit is just...colorful. The word seems far too faint a qualifier for the intricately-hued fruit of the variegated fig. Its surface is striped pole-to-pole, like longitudinal lines of a figgy globe.

 

Ficus carica Jolly Tiger fruit 093015 640

 

Variegated it is, then. 

 

Ficus carica Jolly Tiger fruit fingers 093015 640

 

Plucked and brought indoors into even brighter light, the details of this fruit of Ficus carica 'Jolly Tiger' become even more interesting. The skin's longitudinal sectors of green and milky white are just beginning to be speckled with rosy pink.

 

Ficus carica Jolly Tiger fruit from side 100215 640

 

In the picture below, with the fruit on its side, the longitudinal sectoring is even clearer, as is the circumferential array of the pink stippling. Only the tip of the fruit—its North pole, as it were—is pink-free.

 

Ficus carica Jolly Tiger fruit 100215 top 640

 

The fruit's interior shows no sign of the variegation of the skin, and concerns itself only with milky white and rosy pink.

 

Ficus carica Jolly Tiger fruit interior 100215 640

 

At the center, a cavity is lined with the developing seeds. They are embedded in flesh so moist and, uhm, flesh-colored that, if a gentleman were to proffer a split fig to a lady, it could be an invitation to bed.

 

Ficus carica Jolly Tiger fruit interior detail 100215 640

 

This fruit is far from ripe. When it is, the exterior and the flesh will have both become burgundy colored as well as more fragile. Ripe figs drop from their branches, split open on the ground, and become infested with bugs. It's a challenge to harvest them at the last and ripest possible moment before their ruinous fall. Ah, the sexual and moral overtones!

 

Here's how to grow Ficus carica 'Jolly Tiger', as well as a look at this tree's exciting warm-weather foliage. 

 

As is typical for figs, cuttings of Ficus carica 'Jolly Tiger' root easily. Here's a look at some I harvested one Winter. In 2016, I'll be providing this peerless nursery with 'Jolly Tiger' cuttings; here's hoping they'll have this extraordinary tree for sale in 2017. 

 
 
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