Figs – Wasps and Pollination

Q: Some time back I listened to a radio caller asking about wasps that pollinate figs. Based on what I heard, I told my sister that the wasps only pollinate the Mission figs that grow in California. My sister disagreed and now my research says all figs are pollinated by a wasps. Is Walter wrong this time?

A: I’m not always right, but I’m right often enough to keep my hopes up. So I was wrong to say ‘Mission’ figs depend on wasps; it’s the ‘Calimyrna’ fig that I was thinking of on radio. “Common” figs, including ‘Brown Turkey”, ‘Celeste’, Brunswick’ and ‘Mission’ do not need pollination. Their fruit develops with insect help. “Caducous” figs, including ‘Smyrna’, ‘Calimyrna’ and ‘Marabout’ require a tiny wasp to crawl inside and perform pollination. An Internet myth posits that the crunchyness of Fig Newtons comes from wasp eggs but, in truth, fig wasps are digested away by fig enzymes.