Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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 berries on vine in Montgomery County, TX
August 09, 2013 - While out in the woods today on Caney Creek near Grangerland, Texas, I found what I thought to be some grapes on a vine hanging down from a tree. I brought the vine down, but when I got it home to pr...
view the full question and answer

Identity of white flowers, 6 petals and 5 yellow stamens
June 16, 2012 - Have white flower with 6 petals and 5 yellow stamen in middle . Looks like yellow stamen star cluster. Could be Gladious or Star of bethleham but Star has 6 yellow stamen in middle right? Can you id...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
November 15, 2013 - I need help identifying a flower/plant. It has a long stem with a Flower at the top and small 2" green things that look like small bananas at the bottom.( But not Bananas) I open one up and it had s...
view the full question and answer

Need to identify a strange plant in my flowerbed
March 05, 2010 - I have a strange plant that I've called a weed in my flowerbed. It doesn't have many leaves but it has round white almost bulbs at the surface of the dirt. The "bulbs" look almost like a small oni...
view the full question and answer

Recognizing poison ivy
June 20, 2007 - I am having a difficult time identifying poison ivy. It seems so many plants look like poison ivy can you help me I don't want to kill everything but on the same hand I don't want to itch. Thanks f...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.