New leaves are bursting forth from our island fig trees. And Ocracoke gardeners are giving springtime thoughts to tending to these iconic trees. On July 16 of last year I posted a short article about the complex and fascinating relationship between figs and fig wasps (every species of fig has a unique species of tiny wasps that fertilizes that type of fig tree).
After I published that journal entry I pondered the completeness of the description. Island fig trees are rooted from cuttings, or reproduce by sending supple limbs down to the ground where they root. I questioned if they ever reproduce from seed.
A little bit of research revealed that fertilized fig seeds generally come from Turkey or other Middle Eastern locations because fig wasps are native to those areas. I further learned that "persistent" or common figs do not need pollination. I am not 100% certain, but I suspect that all fig trees on Ocracoke are descendants of trees that were cultivated millennia ago, and that their fruit develops parthenocarpicly (without fertilization).
So, if you've ever been squeamish about eating figs (and therefore wasp larvae), I think you can relax. I have never seen evidence of fig wasps in Ocracoke figs.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Civil War on the Outer Banks, Josephus Daniels, Jr, Secretary of the Navy during WWI, and his connection to Ocracoke. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022112.htm.