What could these tree "fruits" be?

I’ve often noticed these things, but never really been curious about them till now. I live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. There is a tree near my place, a kind that I’ve seen sporadically about before, that drops green fruits that look almost like a Granny Smith apple, but just slightly more oval-shaped, and with a dull skin. The squirrels seem to love these and will gnaw on them for ages.

Today I passed a fallen fruit on my way home from work and took it with me. I dissected it in the sink. It was somewhat soft and easy to cut through, the pulp being a tannish colour about the consistency of a baked potato. It had gone dark brown in a couple spots, which were also inhabited by a small white larvae of some sort. The fruit itself was shallow, maybe only a half-inch deep, and housed a pit in the middle that was a light tan colour. The pit was rough and the fruit was well adhered to it. The entire thing had a pungent spicy smell about it, almost like nutmeg.

Sorry I don’t have a picture (camera’s batteries are dead). Any idea what this thing is?

Could it be a pawpaw?

Maybe it’s a quince?

Sounds like a Black Walnut to me, especially with the squirrel thing. The nutmeats are edible, but it takes work to get them; and be careful, the juice from the drupes (the flesh) will stain.

I’m with MikeS…If the squirrels like them, it’s gotta be a walnut.

I’m going to go with walnut, also. I was puzzled until I realized what you meant by the fruit only being about 1/2 inch deep…I was thinking you meant it was a very thin fruit…1/2 inch from one side to the other. Then I realized you meant that you could only go 1/2 inch into the fruit before you hit the actual nut.

If you were to free the “pit” from the flesh, you’d probably recognize it as a walnut.

Edit - Yes, it sounds quite a bit like a walnut. One sure way to tell is to try washing your hands after handling the fruit. If the yellowish brown stain on your fingers will not wash off then it’s most likely a walnut.

No, she said it’s oval-shaped. I’ve never seen an oval shaped walnut, and also, she’s describing a more fleshy fruit than what a walnut’s got around the nut. I would also assume she knows what a walnut looks like.

I vote for pawpaw.

Bingo MikeS! It did have a yellowish-brown juice which stained my fingertips.
I didn’t try to get the flesh off, so wasn’t able to identify the nut. But from the tiny bit I saw, and knowing what a walnut looks like, I’m sure this is it.

Thanks for the ID! I’m not much of a nut fan, but I know others who would enjoy some tasty walnuts. I’ll go foraging later. :slight_smile:

He’s not kidding about the staining. Be careful of your clothes and/or tablecloths.

It was just very slightly oval-shaped…as in, they aren’t as perfectly spherical as Granny Smith apples are. More like a lumpy circle.

Oh, I believe it. That and the sprinkling of tiny larvae is what led me to open it up in the sink.

Pawpaws don’t have a single seed; they have a number of lima-bean shaped seeds in the middle.

Ah…so much for my intrepid interpretation!

Another possibility is Butternut (juglans cinerea), which is a close cousin of walnut; butternut fruits are more oval-shaped. (Scroll down on the link to see pictures of the fruits.)

Naw, not even close…it’s most definitely Black Walnut, especially since seeing the photo in MikeS’s link.

Just to reiterate the staining thing - growing up, we had a black walnut tree in the backyard, and when I was in third grade, I used some of the internal pulp to make yellow face paint on some of my friends. One friend had a yellow chin for a week, even after tons of scrubbing, and it took a while for him to forgive me.

Glad to be of help. Back when I was in college, I walked past one of these trees each day. You’d see half a dozen squirrels foraging under the tree in the fall, and the nearby concrete sidewalk was permanently off-colour. I’ve never tried the nuts myself, but they’re supposedly quite delicious (if strongly flavoured.)

They are not strongly flavored at all, actually - quite delicate in flavor, though somewhat of a pain extract, especially when they are still undried. The pungency is limited to the pith, not the nutmeat.

Watch out for those things when you walk under them by the way. I almost crashed this morning when a black walnut fell from probably 40 feet onto my windshield. Scared the daylights out of me.

And they make lovely substitutes for golf balls [snortgiggle]!