Fig Tree Varieties in Australia: Black Genoa vs Brown Turkey

Which type of fig tree is right for your garden?

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Fig trees are popular right around Australia. Although edible fig tree varieties are considered sub-tropical plants, they can grow quite successfully in most parts of the country, even in Victoria or inland areas of NSW. For cooler areas, they just need some frost protection when they are still young.

These majestic trees can get very large, so they’re not all that suitable for growing in a suburban garden. However, many of the edible fig varieties can be successfully grown at home.

There are both edible and non-edible varieties of fig trees.

Edible fig trees

Here’s a selection of common edible fig tree varieties that you can grow at home. Each of these trees produces sweet, juicy fruit.

These common figs are known as ‘persistent’ varieties. They usually produce two crops per year and don’t require pollination.

The trees are all deciduous and can be pruned in winter to retain their shape and keep their height manageable.

Black Genoa

The Black Genoa fig tree variety is commonly grown by commercial fig growers and is prized for its distinctive flavour and excellent storage qualities. It is a vigorous tree that produces more fruit than other varieties.

It is a spreading tree with a natural open growth habit and will spread to grow into a lovely shade tree.

This also makes Black Genoa ideal for a specimen tree in your garden with the added benefit of providing a lovely harvest of fresh, juicy figs.

Fruit characteristics:

  • Squat and pear-shaped
  • Dark purple when ripe
  • White flesh with red seeds
  • Fruit can be harvested from March to April

Brown Turkey

Brown Turkey is a smaller tree that has sparse foliage so it doesn’t make a good shade tree. However, this variety may only produce one crop per year.

If you live in a coastal region, you might find that the fruit will not be as sweet when it’s been exposed to long periods of heavy rain. Therefore, the Brown Turkey fig tree is better suited to drier inland areas and also grows well in Perth.

Fruit characteristics:

  • Large and pear-shaped
  • Has prominent deep ribs
  • Has few seeds
  • Purplish brown when ripe but slightly lighter at the stem end
  • Pinkish-brown flesh
  • Fruit can be harvested from February through to May

White Genoa

This variety is ideal for cooler areas and produces fruit that is milder in flavour. The tree can grow quite large and has lovely palmate-shaped leaves.

When pruned regularly, this tree can be kept to a height of 2.5 metres.

Fruit characteristics:

  • Medium to large and pear-shaped
  • Greenish-yellow when ripe
  • Amber flesh with red pulp
  • Fruit can be harvested from February to May

Preston Prolific

This variety originated in Victoria and is believed to be a natural hybrid of Black Genoa. The tree is a vigorous grower and has large leaves, making it an ideal shade tree.

The fruit produced by this variety has a distinctive sweet flavour.

Fruit characteristics:

  • Oblate in shape with a short stalk
  • Purplish brown when fully ripe
  • Creamy white flesh with an amber coloured pulp
  • Fruit can be harvested from February through to May

White Adriatic

This tree is not as vigorous as Black Genoa or Preston Prolific and doesn’t spread as much. It normally only produces one crop per year but the fruit has a really good flavour.

This variety is suitable for cooler areas and grows well in the Adelaide Hills. It’s also commonly grown commercially to produce fruit for drying, fig jam and canning.

Fruit characteristics:

  • Medium to large spherical fruits
  • Pale green to amber when ripe
  • Pink to deep red coloured pulp
  • Fruit can be harvested from February through to April

Cape White

This variety originated in South Australia and is a vigorous grower with a low spreading habit. It’s mainly grown commercially for jam making. Because of its origin, this variety is more suited to warmer climates.

It’s important to harvest the ripe fruit when ready as it is prone to splitting.

Fruit characteristics:

  • Small, squat and pear-shaped
  • Slightly ribbed with almost no neck
  • Creamy white flesh with a solid centre
  • Fruit can be harvested from January to February

Blue Provence

This is one of the older varieties and dates back to 1911. It has large and attractive leaves. The fruit ripens later than other popular varieties.

This variety is also suitable for growing in pots as it can become naturally dwarfed when pruned regularly.

Fruit characteristics:

  • Purple skin when ripe with a pronounced blue stripe
  • Purple flesh that is very sweet
  • Fruit can be harvested in March to April

Excel

This lovely fig variety has a sweet honey flavour. The tree is suitable for most climates and is cold tolerant down to minus 12 degrees Celsius. However, young trees should still be protected from severe frosts.  

Fruit characteristics:

  • Large and rounded
  • Bright yellow skin when ripe
  • White honey-flavoured flesh
  • Fruit can be harvested from March through to May

Dwarf Brown

This dwarf variety is ideal for growing in pots. It only reaches a height of around 1.5 metres when pruned regularly to keep its shape. 

Fruit characteristics:

  • Brown skin when ripe
  • Fruit can be harvested from February through to May

Non-edible fig trees

The most common non-edible varieties are:

  • the Moreton Bay Fig, and
  • the Port Jackson Fig.

Although these are commonly grown in parks in coastal regions of Queensland and NSW, there are also some large specimens that can be found on the coast in Victoria.

FAQ

Where is the best place to plant a fig tree?

Fig trees thrive in full sun, but they can tolerate partial shade. They will do well in any soil with good drainage.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture. She has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She also had the responsibility of a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.