A special orchard in Northern California is home to more than 100 different kinds of figs from around the globe. This fig genebank ranks as one of the world's largest living assortments of edible figs, writes the US Agricultural Research Services (ARS) this week.
Most are specialty varieties of Ficus carica but, ARS claims, the genebank ensures that the genes of these figs and their exotic, rare, and 'oddball botanic cousins' are safeguarded for the future.
The collection is part of what's formally known as the ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Fruit and Nut Crops, headquartered at Davis, California. In addition to familiar, commercially grown figs that thrive in warm, dry climates, the repository also includes heirloom varieties and unnamed specimens known only by numbers.
Among the most distinctive figs, reports ARS, at the genebank are the Violette de Bordeaux, which offers purple skin, brilliant-red flesh, and a taste reminiscent of raspberry jam, and Panachée, which bears yellow-skinned, green-striped fruit with a delicate strawberry flavour.
Fig breeders and researchers - along with nursery managers interested in finding figs suitable for their climates and customers - are the primary users of the collection.
Figs are a reliable source of several essential minerals including magnesium, calcium, and potassium.