The largest collection of fruit trees in Portugal is in the Algarve, and the largest collection in the Algarve is at the Agricultural Experiment Centre in Tavira where 120 varieties of almond trees, 280 varieties of vine and 227 varieties of citrus are growing happily among many other unique varieties of trees that many thought extinct.
Agricultural engineers from the Regional Directorate of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Algarve (DRAPALG) have been collecting trees and vines from across the region, replanting and carefully studying specimens that form “the genetic heritage of the Mediterranean’s fruit trees.”
According to João Costa, an agronomist at the Tavira centre, "There were many varieties scattered about and, with the abandonment of agriculture, they were in danger of extinction."
According to António Marreiros, another agronomist working on the project, the idea is not to lose the genetic heritage of trees that are so important to the Mediterranean diet.
The intention is that the farmers can take advantage of the Tavira studies into improving the production potential of these specimens.
Few will realise that there are so many different varieties of fig tree, Tavira has 97 different species, with 44 types of carob tree, 78 varieties of pomegranate, 227 types of citrus and 280 different vines.
João Costa says that the centre wants to start guided tours so that farmers can see what is being done. "We have 97 different species of figs, so the farmers can come here and taste the different varieties to experience the different aromas and flavours."
Fruit tree fans can visit the Mediterranean Spring Garden Fair 2017 where one of the three free talks is by the renowned fruit tree specialist, Jean-Paul Brigand, who has agree to tear himself from his garden on March 4th to attend the show at Quinta da Figuerinha near Silves.*
*For details of the Spring Garden Fair in Silves on March 4th, click HERE