mystery fruit

« Back to Name that Plant

Date Photo Taken: 08/18/2013
Location: Athens, GA
Posted By: athens.project

Notes:

We’ve found a few of these in the leaf litter beneath a stand of 2 water oaks and 1 sweet gum tree — all about 40 years old. We’re not sure if they are immature ‘aborted’ acorns or maybe even something the squirrels “brought home” and discarded, finding them unpalatable. Any help is welcome!

COMMENTS

  1. athens.project Apprentice says:

    PS: It’s dried and wrinkly 24 hours after picking up off the ground…

    August 19th, 2013 at 6:30 am
  2. parityanimal Flower Fanatic says:

    I found one of those under the oaks here too, in Peachtree Corners. Kinda looked like a tiny apple or immature persimmon. I thought it was an offering from the squirrels too, but may it is an immature aborted acorn.

    August 19th, 2013 at 9:55 am
  3. athens.project Apprentice says:

    SOLVED!

    Dr. Robert Wyatt (UGA Prof. of Botany & Ecology, Ret’d) writes:

    I have examined the “mystery fruits” that you found in your backyard under water oaks, and I have come to the radical conclusion that they are not fruits at all! I think that they are oak galls, probably caused by Cynipid wasps. When I sectioned one of the “balls,” it had none of the internal structure of a fruit such as a pome (i.e., a fruit like an apple or a pear). Moreover, the external surface lacked any evidence of floral parts—not even a stalk.

    There are thousands of species of gall wasps, and oak trees are among their favorite hosts. Galls can take on many different shapes, sizes, and textures. Yours seem to be “immature,” but they contain living larvae (or “maggots”) inside. A less likely possibility is that these galls were caused by flies.

    It is easy to see why someone might think these are Bradford Pear fruits, but I believe that the resemblance is only superficial.

    I hope this clears things up.

    August 30th, 2013 at 1:07 pm
  4. Mystery fruit = a gall! | Walter Reeves: The Georgia Gardener Unregistered says:

    [...] see http://www.walterreeves.com/name-that-plant/mystery-fruit/ [...]

    August 30th, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Leave a Reply