En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

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





More Trees Questions

Viability of Texas Mountain Laurel in Louisiana
March 19, 2008 - I just returned from a visit to Austin and I saw the Texas Mountain Laurel everywhere. I live in the Baton Rouge, LA area and would like to know if performing some soil amendments would allow me to gr...
view the full question and answer

Patio materials under a native oak trees in Missouri
March 02, 2009 - Is it safe to build a pavestone patio (with gravel sub base, Geo tech 101 fabric and sand bed..around two 50+ year old native oak trees? I know concrete would compact and cause damage to the surface ...
view the full question and answer

Leaves falling off live oak tree in Eureka TX
August 22, 2009 - I have the same question; it is in Navarro County in August. The leaves are falling off my live oak tree, they are brownish yellow, but it is not oak wilt. What might it be? This year I put mulch arou...
view the full question and answer

Native Trees for Pflugerville TX
September 28, 2013 - I'm looking for suggestions on native, drought tolerant conifers that can be located in a Pflugerville landscape under overhead electric lines. Open to Arizona Cypress, but concerned about the height...
view the full question and answer

Texas madrone trimmings for a wedding
July 26, 2011 - Looking for Texas madrone tree trimmings needed for a special wedding.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center