Plants create fruit to further the survival of their species but in doing so they create some very tasty treats for the rest of us. Not all “fruit” is fleshy - some are seed capsules, some are nuts and some are small seeds attached to wispy bits of fluff designed to carry them away. Here I want to talk about fleshy fruits and in particular the attractive fleshy fruits that appear in fall.
|Red chokeberry (Photinia pyrifolia)|
Of course even those that are eaten come out the other end where the seeds are now even better prepared to sprout and grow!
If you like to have plants with fruit, whether for show or for the birds and critters, let’s talk about the possibilities, starting with a few shrubs.
|Juicy fall berries of Viburnum acerifolium|
Beautyberry is a delight for humans as much as it is for mockingbirds. The electric-purple berries of Callicarpa americana get a lot of attention when they ripen in September. This full sun shrub is a carefree native that is also deer resistant and drought tolerant. In a partial shade area, use the white berried form instead.
Hearts a bustin’ is one of the common names for Euonymus americanus. The outrageous fruits of this shrub make it one of the most asked about plants on identification forums in the fall. Lumpy raspberry-colored pods burst open to reveal round red berries dangling on thin strings. An unremarkable plant is suddenly transformed into a thing of beauty.
The following trees provide fruit that both humans and wildlife enjoy.
|Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)|
One way you know you’ve found a hawthorn (Crataegus) is when you see the thorns. The other way is to recognize the fruit with its distinctive apple-like bottom that is formed from the remains of the flower’s calyx.
Like apples, hawthorns are members of the rose family. Hawthorns with the most attractive fruit display are those with small fruits like Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) and green hawthorn (Crataegus viridis). If you want fruit for eating, choose one of the ones with larger fruit. Mayhaw jelly is made from the fruits of Crataegus aestivalus and the fruit is celebrated at an annual festival in Colquitt, GA.
|Crabapple (Malus angustifolia)|
Unlike ornamental crabapples, the fruit usually does not turn red, just a greenish-gold. Collect enough of the small fruits and you could make jelly.
|Sumac fruit lasts a long time|
I love the way that nature has a way to provide food for the critters while packaging it up in a beautiful wrapper for us to admire.