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?

Share

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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

How to tell the girls from the boys in wax myrtles (Morella cerifera)
May 14, 2010 - How would I be able to identify whether my wax myrtles are male or female plants? I was given two plants last fall (that came from a family members back yard) and the person who gave them to me didn'...
view the full question and answer

Viability of Cupressus macrocarpa in Arvada, Colorado
October 06, 2008 - Can I plant lemon cypress in Arvada CO, zone 5, as landscaping plant? Can't find zone information.
view the full question and answer

Juniperus virginiana and some pines for Florida
July 11, 2007 - I live in Pensacola, FL (Northwest Florida, practically lower-coastal Alabama) and I am looking for a medium size tree that will cast shade on my home. The house faces due west and it gets extremely h...
view the full question and answer

Graywater with soap on trees and shrubs from Austin
June 18, 2012 - I previously asked you about using rinse water from our top loading washer to water trees and flowers. I have two more questions: Can I use the soapy water to water trees and shrubs? Then I get...
view the full question and answer

Is a Mexican plum planted last Spring in Houston ready to bloom
April 08, 2011 - I live in Houston, TX. I bought my Mexican Plum last late Spring. It was about 4' tall. It is now about 6' tall, very healthy with lots of beautiful leaves. It gets a lot of sun. It did not blo...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center