Calimyrna Figs In California Photos

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Noteworthy Plants For June 1999

Photos of the Calimyrna Fig & Its Wasp

Paper bag containing wasps and pollen-bearing caprifig profichi syconia in June. Several tiny, black female wasps (appearing like black dots in photo) have emerged from the syconia. Growers are careful not to place too many wasp-laden caprifig syconia in the bags, otherwise overpollination will cause severe splitting in the Calimyrna crop.

Minute flowers from the dioecious syconia of the common edible fig (Ficus carica). Left, male flower showing 5 stamens protruding from bract-like calyx. Center and right, short and long-style female flowers consisting of a single pistil protruding from bract-like calyx. The long-style female flowers are produced in syconia on separate "female" trees, while the male flowers and short-style female flowers are produced in syconia on "male" caprifig trees.

Overwintering mamme crop of syconia on the deciduous branches of a caprifig. This crop of syconia houses fig wasps (Blastophaga psenes) during the cold winter months.

Overwintering mamme and new profichi crop of syconia. Photographed 21 February 2009. Soon the gravid female Blastophaga psenes will exit the mamme crop and enter the profichi syconia.

Overwintering mamme and new profichi crop of syconia. Photographed 21 February 2009. Soon the gravid female Blastophaga psenes will exit the mamme crop and enter the profichi syconia.

A caprifig mamme syconium covered with minute fig wasps (Blastophaga psenes). These female wasps just escaped through the ostiole on 5 April 2001 in San Diego County. They will fly away to another caprifig branch and enter the receptive ostioles of the young profichi crop. In June, another generation of female wasps will emerge from the mature, pollen-bearing profichi crop. The wasps will carry pollen to the nearby Calimyrna syconia containing receptive, long-style flowers. Pollination of the Calimyrna crop results in the superior nutty flavor of these figs.

View inside an overwintering mamme syconium taken 8 April 2005 in San Diego County. The female wasps have already emerged from circular exit holes in the ovaries of female flowers. The exit holes were chewed open by the male wasps, who also inseminated the females before they left the female flowers. Their jobs completed, the amber-colored, wingless males died within the syconium.

A dozen female Blastophaga psenes crammed into the ostiole of receptive profichi syconium of Ficus pseudocarica caprifig. Photographed 25 March 2009.


Don't Overpollinate Your Calimyna Fig!

Do not plant a wasp-infested male caprifig adjacent to a Calimyrna tree. Too many fig wasps will overpollinate the Calimyrna fig resulting in excessive seed-bearing druplets and severely split syconia. The split syconia become invaded by Argentine ants (Iriodomyrex humilis) and metallic green fig beetles (Cotinus texana).

A split Calimyrna syconium with a fig beetle (left) and numerous Argentine ants.

This fig beetle was photographed while engorging itself on a ripe Calimyrna fig. The Argentine ants were in motion, scurrying over the fig and attempting to attack the beetle's impervious exoskeleton. Notice the abundant seed-bearing drupelets resulting from pollination and fertilization.

A severely split Calimyrna syconium containing thousands of seed-bearing drupelets. Excessive pollination by fig wasps from caprifig trees causes the Calimyrna syconia to split.


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