Types of Fig Trees in the US: Explore Different Varieties

Types of Fig Trees
14 min reading time

If you’re looking for a versatile and delicious fruit tree to add to your garden, look no further than the fig tree. These trees are not only easy to grow, but also offer a wide range of varieties to suit different preferences and climates. In this section, we will explore the different types of fig trees that are native to the United States, including the common fig tree types that you may already be familiar with.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fig trees come in a wide array of species and cultivars, each with its own unique characteristics.
  • Popular fig varieties include the Brown Turkey, Black Mission, and Celeste.
  • Fig trees can be classified based on their growth habit, fruit color, and other distinguishing factors.
  • Cold-hardy fig tree varieties can thrive in regions with colder winters.
  • To ensure the health and productivity of your fig tree, proper care and maintenance are essential.

Understanding the Types of Fig Trees and Cultivars

Fig trees come in a wide range of species and cultivars, with each type displaying its unique features and characteristics. Understanding the different fig tree species and cultivars can help you make an informed decision on which one to plant in your garden.

There are four main fig tree species:

Ficus caricaThe common fig tree species that produces edible figs for consumption.
Ficus religiosaThe sacred fig tree species that is considered holy in Hinduism and Buddhism.
Ficus benjaminaThe weeping fig tree species that is commonly used as an indoor ornamental plant.
Ficus microcarpaThe Chinese banyan fig tree species that is often used in bonsai cultivation.

Within each species, there are numerous cultivars, each with its unique size, shape, color, flavor, and texture of its fruit. Here are some popular fig tree cultivars:

  • Brown Turkey: A medium-to-large size, purplish-brown fruit with sweet, juicy flesh.
  • Black Mission: A medium-size, deep purple fruit with a rich, sweet flavor.
  • Celeste: A small-to-medium size, light brown fruit with a sweet, honey-like flavor.
  • Kadota: A medium-size, yellow-green fruit with a mild, sweet flavor and a firmer texture.
  • Adriatic: A large, light green fruit with a delicate, sweet flavor and a thin skin.

Each cultivar has its own preference for specific growing conditions, such as soil type, water requirements, and temperature range. Knowing the characteristics of each cultivar can help you choose the one that will thrive best in your location.

Overall, understanding fig tree species and cultivars is essential when selecting a tree to plant in your garden. It can help ensure that you choose the right tree that will flourish in your area and provide you with delicious fruits for years to come.

The Beauty of Common Fig Tree Varieties

Fig trees produce a wide range of fruit shapes, colors, and flavors. But among the many fig tree varieties, some have become particularly favored for their exceptional taste, texture, and versatility.

The following are some popular fig varieties that you might want to consider growing in your garden:

Fig VarietyCharacteristics
Brown TurkeyA medium-sized fig with a brownish-purple skin and a sweet, rich flavor. It is one of the most widely grown figs in the US, prized for its reliable production and adaptability to different climates.
Black MissionA medium to large fig with a deep purple skin and a sweet, earthy flavor. It is the most commonly grown fig in California, prized for its high sugar content and versatility in cooking and baking.
Chicago HardyA cold-hardy fig that can survive temperatures as low as -10°F (-23°C). It produces medium to large figs with brownish-yellow skin and a sweet, juicy flavor. It is a popular choice for gardeners in northern states.
CelesteA small to medium fig with a light brown skin and a sweet, nutty flavor. It is a favorite in the southern US, prized for its rich, honey-like taste and prolific bearing.

Fig trees can also be classified based on their fruit type, growth habit, or other unique characteristics. The common fig (Ficus carica) is the most widely grown species, but there are also lesser-known fig species, such as the Smyrna fig (Ficus sycomorus) or the caprifig (Ficus carica var. caprificus).

Fig tree classification can help you understand the different types and varieties available, but ultimately, it’s up to personal preference and local climate conditions to determine which fig tree cultivars are best suited for your needs.

An Overview of Fig Tree Classification

Fig trees are classified based on several factors, including their growth habit, fruit color, and other distinguishing features. Understanding these classifications can help you choose the right fig tree varieties for your garden.

Growth Habit

Fig trees can be categorized into three main growth habits:

Growth HabitDescription
ErectThese fig trees grow upright, with a single trunk and main branches that extend from it.
SpreadingThese fig trees have a low, spreading growth habit, with multiple branches that extend from the base.
WeepingThese fig trees have a drooping, cascading growth habit, with branches that hang down towards the ground.

Fruit Color

Fig tree fruits can be classified into several colors:

  • Black or purple figs: These figs have a deep purple to almost black color when ripe.
  • Brown figs: These figs have a light brown color when ripe.
  • Green figs: These figs have a light green color when ripe.
  • Yellow figs: These figs have a bright yellow color when ripe.

Other Factors

Other factors that can be used to classify fig trees include:

  • Self-fertile or self-sterile: This refers to the ability of a fig tree to pollinate itself or require a different fig tree to pollinate it.
  • Breba or main crop: This refers to the timing of the fruit production, with breba figs produced on last year’s growth and main crop figs produced on the current year’s growth.
  • Hardiness zone: This refers to the climate zones where the fig tree can grow.

Understanding fig tree classification can help you choose the right fig tree varieties for your garden and ensure that they thrive in your climate and growing conditions.

Fig Trees for Every Climate: Cold-Hardy Varieties

While fig trees are commonly associated with warm climates, there are also cold-hardy varieties that can thrive in regions with colder winters. As a result, more and more gardeners are discovering the joy of growing fig trees even in colder climates.

There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a cold-hardy fig tree variety. First, it’s important to choose a variety that is appropriate for your specific climate. Some cold-hardy varieties can withstand temperatures as low as -10°F, while others may only tolerate temperatures down to 20°F.

Another factor to consider is the fig tree’s growth habit. Some varieties are better suited for container gardening, while others can grow up to 30 feet tall and spread out just as far.

One excellent cold-hardy fig tree variety is the Chicago Hardy Fig, which can withstand temperatures as low as -10°F. This tree also has a compact growth habit, making it ideal for container gardening or small gardens.

The Brown Turkey Fig is another popular variety that can tolerate colder temperatures and has a larger growth habit, reaching up to 20 feet tall and wide.

The Olympian Fig is a newer variety that is gaining popularity among gardeners. It is a cold-hardy tree that is also resistant to pests and diseases. This tree can grow up to 30 feet tall and wide, so it’s best suited for larger gardens.

Whatever variety you choose, make sure to provide proper winter protection, such as wrapping the trunk in burlap or covering the tree with a frost cloth, to ensure its survival during colder months.

Nurturing Your Fig Tree: Care and Maintenance Tips

Types of Fig Trees

Fig tree cultivars come with their unique requirements, but all fig tree types and varieties require proper care and maintenance to thrive. Here are some essential tips to keep your fig tree healthy:


Fig trees need regular watering, especially during hot and dry weather. However, avoid overwatering as it can cause root rot. A general rule of thumb is to water your tree once or twice a week, depending on the weather and soil moisture level. Water the tree at ground level, and avoid getting the leaves wet to prevent fungal diseases.


Pruning is essential to keep your fig tree healthy and productive. Fig trees should be pruned in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. Remove any dead or diseased wood, and prune branches that cross or rub against each other. Also, cut back about a third of the previous year’s growth to encourage new fruiting wood.


Fig trees require fertilization to maintain healthy growth and fruit production. Apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring before new growth starts. You can also give your fig tree a dose of potassium-rich fertilizer in late spring or early summer to encourage fruit development. However, avoid over-fertilizing as it can damage the tree and reduce fruit quality.

Pest and Disease Control

Fig trees can be susceptible to pests and diseases, including spider mites, fig beetles, and root rot. To prevent infestations, keep your tree healthy and well-maintained, and avoid overwatering. If you notice any signs of pests or diseases, treat your tree with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Also, remove any infected plant material and dispose of it properly.

By following these care and maintenance tips, you can ensure that your fig tree cultivars will flourish and reward you with delicious and nutritious fruit for many years to come.

Exploring Culinary Uses of Fig Tree Fruits

Fig tree fruits are known for their unique flavor and texture, offering a sweet and juicy taste that pairs perfectly with a wide range of dishes. From sweet desserts to savory entrees, figs can be used in many creative ways to enhance the taste and nutritional value of your meal. Let’s explore some of the culinary uses of fig tree fruits:

Making Jams and Spreads

Fig tree fruits are naturally high in pectin, making them an ideal ingredient for jams and spreads. By cooking down fresh figs and combining them with sugar and lemon juice, you can create a delicious spread that can be used on toast, crackers or even as a glaze for meats.

Baking with Figs

Fig tree fruits can be used in a variety of baked goods such as cakes, muffins, and bread. Try adding some chopped figs to your favorite cake recipe or mixing them into a batter for a tasty and healthy twist on traditional baked goods.

Roasting with Vegetables

Fig tree fruits can be roasted along with other vegetables such as carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes for a flavorful and nutrient-packed side dish. Simply slice the figs in half, toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the oven until tender.

Pairing with Cheese

Fig tree fruits are a classic pairing with cheese, offering a sweet and savory combination that is sure to impress your guests. Try serving fresh figs with a creamy cheese such as brie or goat cheese for a delicious and elegant appetizer.

As you can see, there are many creative ways to incorporate fig tree fruits into your cooking and baking. Whether you prefer them fresh, roasted, or baked, figs are a versatile ingredient that can add flavor and nutrition to any meal. Try experimenting with different fig tree varieties and cultivars to discover your favorite culinary uses!

Fig Trees in History and Culture

Fig trees have played a significant role in various cultures and civilizations throughout history. These trees were often associated with fertility, abundance, and wisdom. In ancient Greece, fig trees were believed to be a symbol of peace and prosperity, and were used as a sacred offering to the gods. The fig tree was also central to the story of Buddha, who is said to have received enlightenment while sitting under a fig tree.

Fig trees have also been used in religious contexts. In the Bible, figs are mentioned numerous times, including in the story of Adam and Eve, who used fig leaves to cover their nakedness. In Islam, the fig tree is considered a holy tree, and the fruit is believed to have healing properties.

Aside from their cultural and religious significance, fig trees have also been revered for their medicinal properties. In ancient Rome, figs were used to treat various ailments, including constipation, fever, and inflammation. Today, fig leaves are still used in traditional medicine to treat conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Fig tree cultivars and species have also been celebrated in literature and art. The French painter, Henri Matisse, was particularly fond of the fig tree and painted it in many of his works. The poet, H.D., dedicated a whole poem to the fig tree, which she described as a “noble, antique fruit tree.”

Throughout history, fig trees have been a source of inspiration and fascination for people all over the world. Today, they continue to capture our imaginations, reminding us of the powerful connection between nature and culture.


Exploring the world of fig trees has opened up a captivating journey that connects us to nature, history, and culinary delights. We have delved into the various types and varieties that are native to the United States, including common fig tree types that can be found in our own backyards. Understanding the unique characteristics of fig tree species and cultivars has allowed us to appreciate their beauty and diversity.

The popularity of certain fig tree varieties reflects their exceptional taste, texture, and versatility. We have explored the different fig tree classifications, which help us understand the types and varieties available. Even those in colder climates can enjoy fig trees, thanks to the cold-hardy varieties that can thrive in harsh winters.

Proper care and maintenance are essential for the health and productivity of fig trees. We have provided valuable tips on nurturing fig tree cultivars, including watering, pruning, fertilizing, and protecting them from pests and diseases. The culinary uses of fig fruits are vast, from sweet desserts to savory dishes, making them a versatile ingredient in the kitchen.

Fig trees have held significant cultural and symbolic importance throughout history. We have explored their role in mythology, religion, and ancient traditions, adding to their allure and beauty. Whether you’re an avid gardener or simply appreciate the delicious fruits they bear, fig trees offer a diverse range of types and varieties that can thrive in different climates.


What are the different types of fig trees in the US?

There are several types of fig trees in the United States, including common fig tree types such as the Black Mission, Brown Turkey, and Adriatic fig.

What is the difference between fig tree species and cultivars?

Fig tree species refer to the natural groups of fig trees, while cultivars are specific varieties that have been bred or selected for certain characteristics.

Which fig tree varieties are popular for their taste and texture?

Some popular fig varieties known for their exceptional taste and texture include the Kadota fig, Celeste fig, and Calimyrna fig.

How are fig trees classified?

Fig trees can be classified based on their growth habit, fruit color, and other distinguishing factors.

Are there fig tree varieties that can tolerate cold climates?

Yes, there are cold-hardy fig tree varieties that can survive in regions with colder winters, such as the Chicago Hardy fig and the Brunswick fig.

What are some care and maintenance tips for nurturing fig trees?

Proper care and maintenance for fig trees include regular watering, pruning, fertilizing, and protecting them from pests and diseases.

What are some culinary uses for fig tree fruits?

Fig tree fruits can be used in a variety of culinary creations, including desserts, salads, jams, and as toppings for cheese platters.

What is the historical and cultural significance of fig trees?

Fig trees have played a significant role in various civilizations, with symbolism and cultural importance in mythology, religion, and ancient traditions.

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