Botanical help: tree identification

I walk around a lot and have no doubt seen thousands or tens of thousands of local trees and bushes. I recognise most of them either by name or just by appearance. One particular tree I haven’t see anywhere else, and google brings up nothing relevant, even after countless pages of results, and of image search results.

The main identifying trait of this tree is pale yellow-orange berries. They are slightly larger than a large grape. They grow individually, not in clusters or along branches, but singly with several inches between each one. They are already coming off the tree, right at the start of August, so I’ve trod on a few and they just squelch: there’s no stone or anything within, it’s just liquid and skin and a little bit of goo.

The tree itself is about five metres tall, somewhere over twenty feet. It grows over the top of a hawthorn bush, so whatever soil that grows in, that’s what’s there. The leaves are about four inches long and rather narrow for their length. They have a single point and are very different from the hawthorn leaves on the other bush.

The location of the tree is in the English east midlands, but I don’t think the tree is native to the area. As I say, I’ve seen a lot of local trees and bushes, some imported for whatever purpose, but I’ve only seen two of these, and they’re quite close to each other.

I haven’t got a camera, I’m afraid, so no photos.

It’s not a great match to your description but maybe quince?


Could it be Arbutus unedo, AKA “strawberry tree?”

Are you able to collect one of the fruits and cut it in half with a sharp knife?
If so, and it looks anything like a tiny apple inside, it’s likely to be some species of sorbus, crataegus(hawthorn) or malus(apple)

If the leaves white and felt-like underneath, it’s whitebeam.

They seldom fruit in the UK, and not at this time of year (those two things are related - Loquats flower late summer and fruit in spring - our winters don’t typically permit the fruit to develop)

Loquats have very prominent seeds.

Single, widely-spaced fruit rule out most of the candidates I’d have given, like cottoneasters, rowans, sea buckthorn or crabapples.

Not quince, strawberry tree or loquat, I don’t think.The berries are too yellow to be strawberry tree, I think, and too singular, and not fleshy enough to be quince.

Yeah, those showed up on my various google searches, and there are lots of rowans and apple trees around, so I’m familiar with those.

No, there are whitebeams in other parts of town, it’s not one of those.

I will collect one when I walk past tomorrow, and cut it open with a knife, and report back. I should have picked one up last time, but they crushed so easily I was wary about one bursting in my pocket. Unlike crabapples they have no strength or substance to them, treading on one just leaves some skin with the consistency of wet tissue paper. I’ll look at the bark and the leaf positioning as well, to get every bit of information that I can.

Shape and texture of the leaves will also help

I’m an idiot :smack:

I think they’re most likely cherry plums (Prunus Cerasifera) - they come in a variety of colours from very pale yellow through to dark red, a variety of sizes from marble to squash ball, and are most often completely spherical, but occasionally plum-shaped.

They do contain a stone (so not quite fitting the description in the OP), but in most cases, you can’s see it when you open the fruit, as it is completely clothed in fruit pulp - (as you can see at the start of this video I made about them)

I pick these nearly every year. I can’t imagine why they didn’t spring to mind.

I had dismissed those when they showed up on google, but I can’t remember why. Possibly because of the colour. This does seem like the most likely candidate, though.

The leaves are actually a bit shorter and wider than I originally thought and feel roughly like grease paper, they alternate on the branch rather than growing directly opposite each other in pairs.

The bark is unremarkable. No thorns or funny colours or anything.

Having retrieved a couple of the fruits from the ground, the few left on the tree being too high to reach, they are a light orange, although the bruised areas are purple, and the interior is the same colour and rather soft, like the inside of a grape rather than the inside of an apple. I have a great distaste for plums, so can’t really compare. They smell generically fruity. There is actually a single seed in the centre, much bigger than an apple seed but much smaller than I would expect from a normal plum. It’s about two thirds of the length of the fruit and considerably narrower than that. The seed is a light brown, but the flesh of the fruit sticks to it so I can’t see what the surface is like exactly. There’s also a black spot at each end of the fruit, I assume the stem was in one of those when they were on the tree.

So I don’t know cherry plums, but they seem like the most likely explanation.

It does sound very likely - they are quite variable - and in some (rare) variations, the stone comes free from the flesh, so they are easier to identify as plums.

If you scrape the flesh away from the stone, you should find that it’s made of a hard, brittle nutshell-like material, flattened oval in shape, with one or more sharp ridges along the edge from top to bottom - essentially like a small apricot pit.

The fruit itself sometimes (but not always) has a single crease running from stalk to tip (in the manner of other members of the family - the ‘cleavage line’ you see on peaches, plums, cherries, etc)