En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Monday - November 12, 2012

From: Woodbury, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Wildlife Gardens, Trees
Title: Mystery tree with yellow fruit in MN
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

There is a tree at my workplace, about 8' tall, with small, pea-sized yellow berries right now (Oct. 2012). The berries are attractive to Cedar Waxwings, and the tree has small leaves that are simple, lance-shaped when young, and also palmate when larger. They have yellow to purplish fall color. My workplace is in Woodbury, MN (near St. Paul). Thank you for your help!

ANSWER:

Although we cannot give you a definitive answer without a photo or sample, we do have a few ideas that you can investigate further.

Cedar Waxwings are known to prefer the fruit of Pyracantha (firethorn), Crabapple and Hawthorn trees.  All these are members of the Rosaceae family and produce a pome fruit that can be red, orange or yellow.  They all have similar, very typical flowers in the spring as well. 

Because of the size of your tree, it is more likely to be a small crabapple or hawthorn than a firethorn (which would not likely be hardy in your area and is more like a shrub than a tree). There are species of crabapple and hawthorn are native to Minnesota and many ornamental cultivars that would be hardy (and have yellow fruit) as well.

You describe the leaf as becoming palmate as it matures, so that would lead me to guess that your tree is a hawthorn cultivar (have a look at this image of the Downy Hawthorn leaf, and this one) as there is not that much variation in the crabapple tree leaves.  If your tree has thorns, it is a hawthorn: if it doesn't, it could still be.  There have been quite a few thornless cultivars developed for the landscape trade, as the native tree has quite deadly thorns!

Good luck identifying your tree!

 

From the Image Gallery


Downy hawthorn
Crataegus mollis

Prairie crabapple
Malus ioensis

More Plant Identification Questions

Mystery plant
August 31, 2009 - mystery plant, multiple non-woody stems from a single base, thorns like a rose bush,leaves like poison ivy in sets of three with the top dark green underside pale green. thanks
view the full question and answer

Botanical name for a kidney-shaped leaf
June 25, 2009 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants, I love the site.. but I was searching for id on this odd plant I have.. I have lived here a few years now, and have seen them before, never seemingly to have a flower..but ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant growing in Plumbago
August 01, 2007 - Help - I have a strange looking plant that recently shot up in a potted Plumbago. I planted the Plumbago in its pot with Miracle Gro potting soil, and have been fertilizing with Miracle Gro as well. ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of the mass fields of yellow flowers in North Texas
March 23, 2012 - Are the mass fields of yellow flowers we are seeing in north Texas now likely to be Indian Mustard (brassica juncea) or Charlock (brassica kaber or sinapis arvensis)? We are teaching a wildflower ide...
view the full question and answer

Identity of garlic-like plant in Florida
June 17, 2012 - Please tell me what this plant is. It is not Society Garlic and it is not Meadow Garlic. It has THREE curling purple leaves and lots of bulbs flowering from the same stalk. The pointy leaves are edg...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center