Many researchers claim that the Middle East is the origin of Ficus Carica the common fig. Archeologists have discovered remains of fig trees in cultivation in Jordan valley tracing back to 4000 BC. There are hundreds of varieties in that region that deserves a lot of attention; the local agricultural departments have paid little attention to evaluate the different types of figs from that area.
Fig is considered to be one the oldest fruit trees in the Mediterranean zone. A famous fig breeder and researcher named Ira Condit mentioned that Syria and Anatolia are the natural habitats of the fig tree and from there it was transferred to North Africa, Spain, Mexico, Chile, Peru and California (Mueot laal ., 1960). It was also transported to South America via France and to Mesopotamia, Iran and India from Anatolia (Condit, 1947; Condit, 1955).
the fig fruit was well known by ancient Egyptians. It was called Tun” which could
be the origin of Arabic “Teen”. In Hebrew, it is called “Feg” which later led to the English word Fig” and French Figue”. The Latin scientific name is Ficus. Ancient findings related to the fig tree dates back to 5000 BC in Egyptian
archeological sites. Relics and traces of fig cultivation were also found in Palmyra in
Syria and Babylon in Iraq.”
Many of the varieties of the Middle East were given descriptive names based on the shape, color or flavor. For example the variety named Byadi which comes from the word Abyad for white, it can be found in different areas of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan and many varieties were given that name although they’re not genetically the same.
Living in the USA it’s hard to collect all these varieties and evaluate them; however I have collected many varieties from the Middle East that originally made it to this country with immigrants years ago. Especially Syria, Lebanon, and some other mid eastern countries like Jordan, Palestine/Israel, Egypt. My Main focus is the Syrian and Lebanese varieties, due to the lack of attention given by these countries to evaluate and have selected known varieties.
Here are some of the known varieties of the different Middle Eastern countries:
Jordan: ‘Khudeiri’, ‘Baiady’, ‘Safari’, ‘Nehemiy’, ‘Sbai’, ‘Kharroubi’, ‘Malktenia’.
Iraq: ‘Black Diali’
Egypt: Barshoumi, ‘Kahramany’, ‘Aboudi’, ‘Assouany’, ‘Koummassi’, ‘Adassi’, ‘Abiad’, ‘Sultani’, “Hava”.
Yemen: ‘Saudi’, ‘Rouhi’.
Tunisia: ‘Thamar¡’, ‘Deri’, ‘Black Birchi’,”Zidi”.
Morroco: ‘Bioudi’, ‘El-Quoti.Lezregs’, ‘Boussbatti Hamra’, ‘Hafer Jemel’, ‘El Quoti Lebied”, “Fargouch ElJamal”
‘Fassi’, ‘Aboucherchaou’, ‘Hafer el Baeol’, ‘Sebi’, and other cultivars.
Syria: Green yellow varieties: ‘Khudeiri’, ‘Sultani’, ‘Khani’, ‘Halabi’, ‘Sefraouli’, ‘Esseli’, ‘Anzuki’, ‘Boukrati’, Birtati, Sumacki, Shtawi, “Asfar”, Shami.
– Brown-red varieties: ‘Zeibily-Sammaki’, ‘Afani’, ‘Shincheri’.
– Black-violet varieties: ‘Oubeidi’, ‘Habachi’, ‘Zamouhi’, ‘Assouad’, Zaraki, Shiblawi,
Lebanon: Shtawi, Souadi, Boukrati, Bouadi, and several others.
Some of these varieties may require pollination to set fruit crop. Pollinating these figs can only be done by a special fig wasp.
I will be releasing some of the Mid eastern varieties to the public once I know they are successful in our area.
Here’s some photos and info on some of the varieties I have that fruited.
Barada: A tasty fig, medium size with light green skin. Has a nice honey flavor. Comes from the historic Christian village of Sidnaya outside of Damascus
Byadi: Excellent tasty fig with light green skin, comes from the village of Mishtayeh in Syria. It has been grown in Bethlehem, pa for several years and produces a decent crop. The tree develops a strong straight trunk, suitable for training as a standard.
Lebanese Red: Excellent tasting fig, produces two heavy crops a year. Has been grown in the ground in Pennsylvania and did well. Behaves well in the rainy condition and doesn’t split.
Shtawi: This is a variety grown in Koura, Lebanon. Shtawi comes from the word Shitaa’ in Arabic which means winter. It ripens very late, usually in November into Christmas. Not suitable to grow in cool summers, and areas with cold winter unless grown in greenhouse. Very good taste and very productive.
Sweet Joy /Syrian 6: a numbered variety from a collection of unknown figs from Syria. This tree is vigorous and productive. The unique skin color and the interior is excellent tasting.
Rimaley: collected from Mishtayeh, Syria. It’s a long fig with red interior. Known to be early in the village where it was collected, however it has been ripening end of August in my garden. Very tasty fig.”
Syrian #3: A unique color and good flavor. The skin starts out bronze colored, then as it ripens it gets a blush of red, the pulp is yellow.
Souadi: This particular variety came from a village in the hills near Byblos. The medium figs are so sweet and the tree is productive. The skin changes from red to black.
There are many other varieties from the Middle East that are under evaluation in our garden at Trees of Joy. For more info please check out the variety list on Trees of joy variety list
This is a very interesting blog, I was born and live in Jordan until my early 20s, I miss most of these figs, back in Jordan we only knew 3 kinds of figs, Black, Purple or Green 🙂 I have a few varieties my self original from there, I live in Chicago and have them in 20 gallon pots, never tried to plant them outside, maybe I will try with some cuttings I will propagate next year. I would like to see the varities you have, and would like to buy some for myself. I recently bought Black Madeira and a Syrian variety from you, and hope to see more of the mid eastern ones. Thanks and keep up the good work
Hello Mohammad, Thank you
I’m glad you got plants from the Middle East. let me know how they do for you. and thanks for your order.
Hello BASS. what can you tell me about Lebanese yellow fig? I have one that is two years old and has not fruited yet.
hello, I don’t have this variety, I know there was an unknown fig that was introduced as yellow Lebanese, I don’t have experience with. it myself.
What happened to a variant called “Jordanian”. Any chance it got renamed. I got this from Jon some 7 or more years. He said he got it from you. I have not protected it & certainly it dies to the ground but always resprouted. Not sure whether I should keep it.
The Jordanian, I lost but I recently got it back from someone I shared it with. It’s very tasty fig, it’s possibly the same variety as Zragi.
Hi there, do have you got more info about Byadi? How has it performed and what was the taste like? Thanks!
It’s a tasty honey type fig. There are several types of Byadi. hoping to get grow them in ground here in Pennsylvania.
I have a fig called Lebanese yellow that is in its 4th year in ground. When the figs get about half grown, they become soft and fall off. This has happen the last two years. I/m wondering if it is true to name. Could it be that is needs a wasp?
it’s possible that it is a smyrna type that requires the wasp. however I’m familiar with one that was introduced in the US as Lebanese yellow that fruits without pollination. I doubt you have the same.