Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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 Wildlife Gardens Questions

Literature on native plants and wildlife from Baltimore
September 04, 2010 - Can you tell me a good review of the literature on the relation between native plants and ecology; for example, a study might indicate how native plants support more birds or other wildlife.
view the full question and answer

Caterpillars on Carolina buckthorn (Frangula caroliniana)
September 29, 2007 - I have a Carolina buckthorn and last year there were interesting looking caterpillars munching on the leaves. They were camouflaged to look a bit like bird droppings. The plant database makes no ment...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for butterflies and birds in a park in Lampasas, Texas
May 19, 2009 - There is an area along a creek in Lampasas, Texas that I want to establish as a butterfly and bird park. There are various native plants there now, but I want to add plants that are hosts for butterf...
view the full question and answer

wildflowers for bees and hummers in central Texas
June 16, 2011 - I'm building a native habitat for different hummingbirds and bees at the Inks Lake Fish Hatchery, and I was wondering what kind of native plants in Texas attract these creatures but are also low main...
view the full question and answer

Want to Amend Soil Without Harming Earthworms in Dallas Area
March 16, 2011 - I have a totally odd question. I live in the Dallas area in the blackland soil. I am removing sod from part of my back yard and will replant with nectar and host plants for butterflies. The soil is...
view the full question and answer

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