Black Mission Fig produces many purple black figs in the summer

Black Mission Fig produces many purplish-black figs in the summer


Only four days remain until the official onset of winter. Drifting leaves from the Mission fig tree towering above my  neighbor’s rooftop catches my attention. The fig’s thick trunk and spreading branches form a scaffold that sways against the western sky, pushed by a storm wind advancing from off the Pacific. It took most of autumn for the grand old fig to shed its canopy. Now most of its leaves lie on the ground like pieces of a discarded garment in Mother Nature’s closet.


Human hands, raccoon paws, and squirrel feet removed the tree’s fruit over the summer and fall. The fig remains picturesque with its lowest branches as thick as its trunk and with some trunks gnarled and covered with green moss.


The grand old fig stands stark and vulnerable, soon to rest in complete dormancy, in contrast to its unabashed fecundity during summer. The tree must await spring’s light and warmth to reawaken. For now, the fig’s heavy, gray bark finds resonance in weathered buildings, barns, and fences built more than a half century ago in this part of Contra Costa County.


During spring and summer, when its sap is rejuvenated and flowing with life-giving nutrients, the fig sprouts a lush canopy of bright green leaves. Later, it prolifically produces sweet fruit that grow as large as a man’s fist.


Mother Nature isn’t as precise as the dates on our calendars.Her seasons ease seamlessly from one into  another. Colder and darker days of winter are yet to come. For many plants, the season of cold and storms is a time of rest; a dormant period from which they will emerge anew. The fig will again blossom, leaf-out, produce fruit in a new cycle. This is the promise of spring, the hope of gardeners. Until then, the tree has earned a much-needed rest.

Tags: , , ,


Leave a Reply