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

Identification of tree or shrub in Massachusetts
May 16, 2013 - Good morning, We are in Zone 5 and have a tree/shrub I cannot identify in the backyard of our new home. Tall (6')and growing, green stems,and when the stems are broken the branches smell of lemon o...
view the full question and answer

Do monarchs like Cynachum laeve in Austin, TX?
May 29, 2012 - I have found what I believe is Honeyvine (Cynanchum laeve) growing in my yard here in Austin. I tried using the LBJWC plant data base and could not find it. I also found the plant with a diff...
view the full question and answer

Pictures to Mr. Smarty Plants from Bay Point CA
October 17, 2013 - Is there any way to send you a picture of my Mulberry tree, the Jade and the Spider Plants that are growing in my back yard so you can see what I'm talking about.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 04, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I have a plant that was given to me and told it was spider plant, but I don't believe it is. The plat grows up and has leaves coming out like a spider plant but they are gree...
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant in Menard TX
April 16, 2010 - We recently purchased 40 acres in Menard Texas on the San Saba River. There is a plant that looks like a fern that is all over the river bottom. It looks like the foliage on a carrot and they are al...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center