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Author Topic: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia  (Read 1206 times)

FloridaFruitGeek

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I'm trying to track down a species of Ficus from Australia that reportedly makes an excellent nematode-resistant rootstock for figs. 

I found it described in an article from the Florida State Horticultural Society from 1925. They tested 18 Ficus species as potential nematode-resistant rootstocks for figs, and found that the most promising was an unidentified Ficus species from North Queensland, Australia, introduced by the Office of Seed and Plant Introduction in 1921 under the name SPI 52406. Growing in its native habitat, this species was described as, "A large clean tree with fruit of fine delicate sweet flavor and size of a black Smyrna fig, only more rounded and dark crimson when ripe." They report that the species is evergreen, and in Florida it suffered foliage burn at 29 degrees F, and die-back at 25 degrees F.

They report that fig scions made graft unions more reliably and with better subsequent growth on this species than grafted onto Ficus glomerata, their second-best choice. They report that they planted out one fig grafted onto Ficus 52406 in spring in nematode-infested soil, and as a control also planted a self-rooted fig 17 feet away. By fall, the grafted plant had ripened almost a hundred figs, growing to 4.5 feet with a 2.5 inch diameter trunk just above the bud union. The self-rooted fig nearby suffered heavy nematode damage to its roots, grew to just 2.5 feet, and ripened only a single fig the same year.

I can't find any subsequent information on this species.

I know this is not a lot of information to go on in terms of the description of the mystery Ficus 52406 from North Queensland. I've read that there are 45 Ficus species native to Australia. But I thought it was worth a shot posting this, to see if anyone might recognize what species Ficus 52406 might be, particularly some of the Australian readers of the forum. Any ideas?

-Craig

(original 1925 report: http://fshs.org/proceedings-o/1925-vol-38/92-97_Mowry.pdf)

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2015, 12:59:09 PM »
not sure if it's the same variety, but I was given a fig cutting years ago that was of a special variety (or species), being selected and tested for resistance to nematodes.

my rooted cutting died due to neglect, but if you want, I can try to track them down again, my good friend has the details...this would be a good excuse to call him and bother him about plants...maybe I can learn something new in the process.
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Mike T

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2015, 04:30:52 PM »
Sounds like Ficus racemosa but this species seems far removed from the domestic F.carica.One of the sandpaper figs like F.fraseri or F.opposita would make more sense.It won't be a banyan or stranger, buttressed rainforest giant,swamp F.septica or epiphyte.

FloridaFruitGeek

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2015, 08:01:33 PM »
not sure if it's the same variety, but I was given a fig cutting years ago that was of a special variety (or species), being selected and tested for resistance to nematodes.

my rooted cutting died due to neglect, but if you want, I can try to track them down again, my good friend has the details...this would be a good excuse to call him and bother him about plants...maybe I can learn something new in the process.


Adam: Yes, yes, yes!! Please contact your friend and see if it's possible to get any more of that fig rootstock. Also, see if you can milk him for any details about  who's been testing that variety as a fig rootstock, and what their findings have been.

I'm getting a little obsessed with this,  figuring out what type(s) of Ficus will make a good, nematode-resistant rootstock for figs in Florida. And since root-knot nematodes are a widespread problem in the tropics and subtropics, a solution to this might be widely useful in many areas.

I'm trying to compile any info I can find on the subject, and there's not a lot of reports out there of people with actual experience trying this. Most of what I find is people quoting and re-quoting the findings of  a study that was published in 1970. I would have hoped we would have made some progress on this in the last 45 years!

I recently wrote up the state of what I've been able to find out, and my own limited experiments so far on this subject: http://www.floridafruitgeek.com/uncategorized/in-search-of-nematode-resistant-fig-rootstocks-progress-report-1/
I intend to figure this out, so we can have a decent rootstock for figs in Florida in a few years.

-Craig

FloridaFruitGeek

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2015, 08:16:04 PM »
Sounds like Ficus racemosa but this species seems far removed from the domestic F.carica.One of the sandpaper figs like F.fraseri or F.opposita would make more sense.It won't be a banyan or stranger, buttressed rainforest giant,swamp F.septica or epiphyte.

Thanks Mike, that's some helpful progress towards figuring this out. I looked up the species you mentioned, and Ficus opposita sounds like it possibly, possibly, maybe could be the one. The 1925 report describes the fruit as being pretty good to eat, having a "fine delicate sweet flavor, and size of a black Smyrna fig, only more rounded, and dark crimson when ripe." I don't imagine there are too many wild fig species there with fruit that big or of such good flavor, are there?

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2015, 08:26:48 PM »
None taste that good,few are red  and plenty have big fruit.

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2015, 09:56:02 PM »
NATGRAFT FIGS

NATGRAFT FIGS...Following many years of fig growing and research we are pleased to release the NATGRAFT FIGS to which we have added a root system that will tolerate both wet and dry tropical conditions. We believe this to have world significance, with figs now able to be grown outside their traditional areas and for an extended season.                                   Other points of interest -                         
 This is a tree not a bush
It requires less water than other similar trees
  It requires less fertiliser
    Excellent quality sweet fruit
The top remains ‘Mediterranean’ and will require several fungicide sprays during the wet season.  Due to the prolific root system it should not be planted near pipes or structures.

This is from tropiculture in darwin australia. I have spoken to them. They dont tell you much about the rootstock but it is a native selection and tested for long term compatability and durability. Couldnt work out how to post the pdf sorry.

             


FloridaFruitGeek

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2015, 11:05:42 AM »
NATGRAFT FIGS

NATGRAFT FIGS...Following many years of fig growing and research we are pleased to release the NATGRAFT FIGS to which we have added a root system that will tolerate both wet and dry tropical conditions. We believe this to have world significance, with figs now able to be grown outside their traditional areas and for an extended season.                                   Other points of interest -                         
 This is a tree not a bush
It requires less water than other similar trees
  It requires less fertiliser
    Excellent quality sweet fruit
The top remains ‘Mediterranean’ and will require several fungicide sprays during the wet season.  Due to the prolific root system it should not be planted near pipes or structures.

This is from tropiculture in darwin australia. I have spoken to them. They dont tell you much about the rootstock but it is a native selection and tested for long term compatability and durability. Couldnt work out how to post the pdf sorry.

             


Nice bit of info, Druss, thanks! Well, this definitely confirms it: there are one or more Ficus species native to North Queensland that can make an excellent rootstock for figs. (apparently the majority of Ficus species have varying degrees of graft incompatibility with Ficus carica.) Kind of a pity the folks at Tropiculture are being so tight-lipped about just what species they're using. I wonder if they can ship bare-root plants internationally? I'd be tempted to buy a fig tree from them, just to slice off the scion and let the rootstock grow, so I can propagate it into many plants, and graft figs onto them! Hmmm...

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2015, 11:33:19 AM »
I'm trying to track down a species of Ficus from Australia that reportedly makes an excellent nematode-resistant rootstock for figs. 

I found it described in an article from the Florida State Horticultural Society from 1925. They tested 18 Ficus species as potential nematode-resistant rootstocks for figs, and found that the most promising was an unidentified Ficus species from North Queensland, Australia, introduced by the Office of Seed and Plant Introduction in 1921 under the name SPI 52406. Growing in its native habitat, this species was described as, "A large clean tree with fruit of fine delicate sweet flavor and size of a black Smyrna fig, only more rounded and dark crimson when ripe." They report that the species is evergreen, and in Florida it suffered foliage burn at 29 degrees F, and die-back at 25 degrees F.

They report that fig scions made graft unions more reliably and with better subsequent growth on this species than grafted onto Ficus glomerata, their second-best choice. They report that they planted out one fig grafted onto Ficus 52406 in spring in nematode-infested soil, and as a control also planted a self-rooted fig 17 feet away. By fall, the grafted plant had ripened almost a hundred figs, growing to 4.5 feet with a 2.5 inch diameter trunk just above the bud union. The self-rooted fig nearby suffered heavy nematode damage to its roots, grew to just 2.5 feet, and ripened only a single fig the same year.

I can't find any subsequent information on this species.

I know this is not a lot of information to go on in terms of the description of the mystery Ficus 52406 from North Queensland. I've read that there are 45 Ficus species native to Australia. But I thought it was worth a shot posting this, to see if anyone might recognize what species Ficus 52406 might be, particularly some of the Australian readers of the forum. Any ideas?

-Craig

(original 1925 report: http://fshs.org/proceedings-o/1925-vol-38/92-97_Mowry.pdf)



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anthony davies

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Dunno if you are still pursuing this topic. I live in far north queensland Australia , we had a local nursery that offered F.carica grafted to a "native fig" The nursery has changed ownership and no longer grafts figs. My tree suckered from the rootstock and I established some plants. They are Ficus opposita, our most common wild "sandpaper" fig locally. I have even managed to successfully graft f.carica to one of these, despite my lousy grafting skills. The original plant I purchased is a Black Genoa; now almost 4 years old, it bears almost continuously in our tropical climate with progressive leaf fall and fruit set. We must have had over a hundred figs from it.

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 10:23:34 PM »
Wow. Thank you. I have been very interested in this as well.
Dunno if you are still pursuing this topic. I live in far north queensland Australia , we had a local nursery that offered F.carica grafted to a "native fig" The nursery has changed ownership and no longer grafts figs. My tree suckered from the rootstock and I established some plants. They are Ficus opposita, our most common wild "sandpaper" fig locally. I have even managed to successfully graft f.carica to one of these, despite my lousy grafting skills. The original plant I purchased is a Black Genoa; now almost 4 years old, it bears almost continuously in our tropical climate with progressive leaf fall and fruit set. We must have had over a hundred figs from it.
-Josh

Mike T

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2018, 03:35:38 AM »
Makes sense that a sandpaper fig was used as all those rainforest species and there are dozens of them seem unsuitable. Brown Turkey is the most common F.carica variety that people succeed with in tropical Australia. I am surprised they are compatible still.

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2018, 05:11:09 PM »
If anybody has seed available to sell let me know. I can't find a source besides plants in Australia which can't be shipped here.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 05:16:25 PM by Vernmented »
-Josh

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Re: In search of the mysterious 'Ficus 52406' from North Queensland, Australia
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2018, 02:16:44 AM »
Hey Josh, can the seeds be shipped to California? If so, send them to me and I will ship express to you. Chris

 

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