Black Madeira Fig Tree (DFIC 144)
The queen of figs has arrived! Widely regarded as the best tasting fig you might ever find, Black Madeira has a certain mystique to it amongst fig growers and collectors. Figs ripen late and are typically grown in greenhouses by us here in the Northwest, but even greenhouse-ripened figs are out of this world delicious! If it weren’t for the slow growth habit and late ripening it would be the perfect fig. Sugar levels are high, the skin has that tang to round out the sweetness of the flesh and that strong berry, caramel and “figgy” flavor that the best dark skinned cultivars are prized for are in perfect balance. Figs on Black Madeira are also on the smaller side, though not tiny, and we find this ratio of skin to flesh to be much more appealing than some of the gigantic figs. A highly regarded fig for very good reason!
Due to its incredibly slow growth habit and confusion over the various cultivars that go by the name “Black Madeira”, it’s been a difficult one to get into circulation. We received our first cuttings many years ago from the USDA National Plant Germplasm System to ensure we had the true cultivar. They were breathtakingly slow even under the most ideal conditions until we grafted them onto some hyper vigorous seedling figs we had found, and then they took off like we’d never seen before. In a single season, trees were filling into 25 gallon pots and hitting the tops of the greenhouses and finally providing enough wood to introduce this lovely and rare gem of a fig. We’re finding the plants cloned from these grafted trees are somewhat slower still than other cultivars but are growing much faster than they had for us in the past. We theorize that reinvigorating the clone with this vigorous rootstock is reflected in the quality of the scion and the plant’s ability to outpace the mosaic virus to some extent. We will likely have grafted plants available in the future, but are very excited for this year’s batch of youngsters that will finally make it out into the world to be more widely appreciated. Plant these in a hot spot, give them extra TLC and make an extra 2 or 3 or 10 permanent labels for it!
One of the easiest fruits to grow, and a true gourmet delight, you should not live your life without feasting on this sweet, delectable fruit. To fully enjoy fresh Figs you must grow your own. When fully ripe and at their tender, shipping them long distances is virtually impossible. Another plus for Figs – deer don’t like them (most of the time)!
Click here to read our Fig Growing Guide.
Latin Name: Ficus carica (cv. DFIC 144)
Site and Soil: Figs do well in a variety of soils, but require at least 8 hours of sunlight during the growing season.
Pollination Requirements: Self-figful.
Hardiness: Figs are hardy to between 0° & 5° F. Black Madeira has proven itself reliably hardy outdoors here in the PNW.
Bearing Age: 1-2 years after planting.
Size at Maturity: 8-15 ft in height, smaller with pruning.
Taste: Fig perfection
Fruit Skin: Black
Fruit Flesh: Red
Bloom Time: Flowers are not noticeable as they are inside the fig.
Ripening Time: September – November
Yield: 10-15 lbs. or more per plant
Pests & Diseases: Figs are not bothered by pests in our region. Cover plants with netting if birds are a problem.
Fig Mosaic Virus is a benign virus that exists in all cultivated fig trees. Yellow spotting of the leaves is a cosmetic symptom that shows more in container culture, but is quickly outgrown once trees are planted in the ground. The presence of FMV in all cultivated figs has become widely accepted, as even the national germplasm repository for figs maintained by the USDA has Fig Mosaic Virus. If the presence of FMV is a concern, then purchasing fig trees may not be the best option for you.
USDA Zone: 7