If Black Madeira is the king of figs, the Coll de Damas is the queen of figs. It translates to, “a lady's neck” for its long and distinctive neck. That's one of the best ways to identify it.
While the flavor of the Coll de Damas is quite complex, the texture is what I believe puts it in the category of a fig variety that must be grown by every fig grower. The texture is very thick. Like pancake batter. It's more than just a thick jam that you can find in a jar at the supermarket. It's got something extra and in my opinion, it's the best eating experience that you can find in Ficus Carica.
There are a few names for the Coll de Damas. There's Blanc, Noire & Grise. Each has pretty much the same eating experience, but with a different skin color. How amazing is that?
It's also a commercial fig particularly popular in Spain and therefore there are a number of similar figs beyond Blanc, Grise & Noire.
One of which is Gegantina. It’s a consistently larger Blanc.
There's also Mutante, which is a mutation of Noire that shows rimada-like striping when the fig is ripening.
There's also Roja, which by most accounts is a synonym of Noire.
While each of these is quite similar and will give you that amazing eating experience, they do all show different observable characteristics. Most of them I find to be rather unhealthy and until you plant them in the ground and rejuvenation prune them, they'll be quite finicky trees throughout their lifetimes.
Once you can establish something very healthy in the ground, cuttings or air layers can be taken from these trees to produce a healthy, vigorous, and productive copy. Because of how amazing the Coll de Dama figs are, I've decided to champion the task of finding a similar fig to the Coll de Damas without the difficulties attached.
It's hard to say at this point which variety will prevail (or maybe I'll even just stick with a healthy Noire for example), but certainly, a nice alternative so far seems to be a variety called De La Roca.
To this day I think it's still the best eating experience I've had in a fig. The tree grows well, is productive, is healthy, and seems to perform better in humid conditions. It can dry on the tree a bit easier than the other Coll de Dama figs and perhaps it also has a shorter hang time.
Gegantina is similar to the Blanc version of the Coll de Damas, but it's consistently larger. You get the same amazing eating experience but in a larger size. I would recommend this slight variation on the Coll de Damas even more for dry locations.
Coll de Dama Gegantina Fig Tree
Why choosing the right fig variety matters
Choosing the right fig variety can make all the difference in so many positive or even negative ways. A variety that is well suited to your climate and taste preferences will ensure that your getting the fig experience that you deserve.
It's heartbreaking when you put years of work into a tree to finally realize that it's just not suited to your location because it will rarely produce high quality figs and in some cases, may never produce fruit that's even edible!
Fig varieties are very location specific because they're so highly subjected to their environment while they're ripening. Unlike many other fruits, the fig can be destroyed in its final ripening stage. It's a soft fruit that can absorb water into its skin causing cracking, splitting, mold & fermentation all because the inside of the fruit gets exposed to the outside elements of nature.
An apple has a hard covering. A persimmon has a hard covering. Berries and other soft fleshed fruits are also susceptible to bad weather conditions, but they have a short window of time in which they're soft and ready to be picked. Figs can be soft hanging on the tree for 5, 10 or even 15 days!
How to choose the right fig variety for your climate
When choosing a fig variety, it's important to consider the climate in your area during the winter, summer and fall.
Some fig varieties are more tolerant of cold weather and others can be grown in climates that have mild summers because of their reliable breba production or their early main crop harvest period.
Others are better suited for humid climates because they don't need to hang as long on the tree and they have a skin that acts like a waterproof jacket. The water just slides right off.
Others are better suited to warmer climates and have the ability to taste incredible even in 100-110F temperatures.
If you want fig variety recommendations, read through the description of each fig variety carefully, or better yet, don't be afraid to contact me. In your message, include your growing zone, location, annual rainfall, and how you want to grow them.
To read more about choosing the right fig variety, click here: