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Wednesday - November 10, 2010

From: Ashland, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Mystery Fruit in Ashland Oregon
Answered by: Leslie Uppinghouse


Hi, I live in Oregon and while I was picking wild apples I came across what I thought was a lemon tree. I picked some of the smaller fruits that grew in pairs and had a small, yellow lemon appearance and citrus smell. However, when I opened the very thin rind into the fruit I saw that it had stringy meat, not pulp and a single stone pit. What is this crazy fruit with an outside lemon appearance and an inside avocado appearance?


Oregon has an abundance of wild fruit and nut trees. Figuring out the specific species name for some of these can be tricky. Although your description is very good with lots of useful hints, we can't say for sure what your tree is, so here is our best guess.

This may be one of the loveliest types of wild tree Oregon has to offer,  Prunus americana (American plum) or maybe Prunus subcordata. Common names for these trees are numerous, Klamath plum, Oregon plum, Pacific Plum, Wild Yellow Plum, Chickasaw plum on and on. The fruit colors vary, some are pale yellow, almost white, similar to a Rainier cherry. Some are gold and some red to deep purple. They are very bright in flavor and smell so the lemon scent would be a description that would fit. They have thin skin and a thick flesh. The fruit size varies as well. This will range from as small as a cherry to a typical plum size.

People use these plums for jam, tarts and even wine. They are becoming more popular for sale commercially but your best bet in finding one is just how you did, wandering about in the woods. Wild plums are small understory trees and like to be nestled in full thickets, in the woodlands all across the Northwest and into the higher elevations of California and Nevada.

Without seeing the tree and the fruit we can't be sure of our guess, another tree that might fit the bill might be the Malus fusca (Oregon crabapple)

To familiarize yourself with the bounty of wild trees Oregon has to offer we will suggest a couple of good books found in the Bibliography Section of our website. Your Mystery fruit might be hiding among the pages there.

Manual of Oregon Trees and Shrubs, Rare and Endangered Plants of Oregon, Trees to Know in Oregon


Prunus americana





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