Hardy Chicago
Additional Information
Hardy Chicago Medium to small; black, sweet and very rich. Will produce a crop after freezing of top growth. (002)

Brown, rich and sweet. Good for potted culture. In 1999, we picked the first ripe outdoor figs on July 31st. Does extremely well in N.C. and we send this one to enthusiasts up north, because of its early fruiting tendency. Zones 6-8 (003)

Fred Born acquired this variety from an Italian grower in Chicago a number of years ago and has shared it with other enthusiasts. It has also become a commercial variety for it is an excellent fig. (Note: Hardy Chicago does resemble Brown Turkey, but the leaves and fruit are distinguishable. It is very hardy. The fruit is small to medium with blackish-purple skin and strawberry pulp. Small eye. Pyriform with long slender neck. Leaf: base calcarate; 5 lobes, lyrate. Very good fresh, dried or in preserves. Responds well to oiling (a method of inducing ripening of immature fruit in late Fall) . Well-adapted in the Eastern U.S. and deserves trials in the Northwest. Last summer I confirmed to my own satisfaction that the commercial variety offered by Edible Landscaping is identical with Fred's variety. Synonym: Chicago Hardy. (006)

A small- to medium-sized fig with light brown to violet skin and strawberry pink pulp. Small eye. Pyriform with a long, slender neck. Excellent flavor and very hardy. Resembles Brown Turkey. (004)

A light reddish brown fig with very good flavor. Very good grower in Canada. (013)

Hardy Chicago Medium Large, Purple-Brown, Dark-Red Center (2crops) (012)

Skin and flesh colors: Brown-purple; strawberry. A somewhat more cold-hardy tree, it is recommended for the upper South and coastal Atlantic regions. Similar to Brown Turkey. Small-sized tree is well suited to container culture. (022)

Also recommended by Oregon Exotics for cold-winter areas. (036)

From a garden near Chicago comes this excellent fig which, once established, can freeze to the ground and come back to produce a crop the same year! The fruit is medium to small, with dark brown skin and a sweet, rich flavor. (037)

(Northern Kentucky) In my area it freezes back to near the ground (planted near a south foundation) every year so no breba crop. [It is] very vigorous: it can be froze to the ground and easily regrows to 6-8 ft by fall. I get ripe figs from the late summer / fall crop usually starting in mid September. After nights routinely fall below 40 degrees or so the remaining unripe fruit become soft, rot, and are devoured by lady beetles strangely enough. (925)

Brown, rich and sweet. Good for potted culture. In 1999, we picked the first ripe outdoor figs on July 31st. Does extremely well in N.C. and we send this one to enthusiasts up north, because of its early fruiting tendency. (071)Small, but very good. Tolerates hot weather. (001c)

There's some debate about Hardy Chicago - is it really hardier than figs like Brown Turkey and Celeste? Is it a sport of Brown Turkey or is it a variety out of Celeste? What isn't up for debate is that fact that Hardy Chicago has impressed us with a very tasty, Celeste-type fig that can hold it's own with any of the figs we grow. The fruits are small and very rich, like Celeste, but seem darker and a bit richer in flavor. We suspect that the hardiness is in line with both Brown Turkey and Celeste.Are we sure about the parentage? Nope, but we are sure that this is a fig worthy of being added to any fig lover's garden! (016)

This fig has an interesting history and what is contained below is only part of the story. This story does however, clear up some mysteries and inaccuracies, although over time, some details tend to get misplaced.
The Hardy Chicago that Hartman's Nursery sells originated from Edible Landscaping.
Ray Given's web site has the following information: "Q. I've heard there are two distinct varieties of Hardy Chicago. Is this true? A. Some people have noticed a difference between the Hardy Chicago figs offered by Fred Born and by Edible Landscaping, the two chief promoters of the variety. I struck some cuttings from the 'Fred Born' strain and compared them with my "edible landscaping' plants. Sure enough they looked different, but less and less so as the season progressed. By the end of summer, I could not discern any difference as to leaf or fruit. I e-mailed Mike McConkey of Edible Landscaping and asked him about it. He explained that his Hardy Chicago came from Fred Born, but that he had used tissue culture to multiply his stock. The plants produced by this procedure may have juvenile leaves for several generations. There is only one strain of Chicago Hardy."
Leon posted this on G.W. 02-14-2006: Hanc Mathies once told me that the DiPaola's, friends and owners of the Belleclare Nursery in Plainview, NY, somehow tracked the Bensonhurst Purple fig to it's origen on Mt. Etna, Sicily, where the variety is known to have been growing at about 3000ft above sea level. (I think that Maggie, a poster on the forums, used an Italian name "Mongibello."
I wrote to Fred Born, who is attributed with "finding" and distributing this fig to folks who made it more widely available. Here is the essence of the reply from Fred.
Fred was fairly certain that he provided the original Hardy Chicago cuttings to Edible Landscaping. He got this fig from a man living on the south side of Chicago. He does not remember the name of the person. The tree was on the property when that unidentified person got the property. This tree was unprotected in the winter and somewhat large, having a trunk diameter of about 4-6 inches. He propagated it and distributed it to others. He is fairly certain that Edible Landscaping gave this fig its name, Hardy Chicago.
Fred found this tree by chance. Someone from 'Organic Gardening Magazine' called Fred to get some information about winter protection for figs (likely prior to 1984). During that conversation, the journalist told Fred about this fig tree and Fred then went to the place and obtained a couple of cuttings. (1001)