Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Mystery of the Unknown Fruit

There is a tree that grows in the midst of the garden. A very strange tree. Strange fruit. Wait, isn't that the name of a '60's group?  Nope. Guess not. I just looked it up and it has many references, including music, art, film and literature. It will also provide some haunting images of American history. This is not That. That is an important topic, but not for this story. I'm going to try to make this a happy story.

It's a mystery without any clues. Well, very few. I doubt it's the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I have not eaten of its fruit. Not this one. Mainly because I have no idea what kind of tree it is. I'm hoping you might be able to help me out.

Actually, there are six of these trees, but only two bore any fruit and only one grew a cluster worth mention and photographs.  I have looked online numerous times, at numerous possibilities, none of which completely fit the description and photos, given the flesh, the pits, the outer appearance. The outside is a small version of the soursop, which is grown in Africa (and elsewhere, apparently) but the insides don't match at all. And, what a tree indigenous to Africa might be doing in my garden in me pause for thought.

Still pausing.

Last night, I was on the phone with JB, my friend in Moab (actually, he's my third ex-husband, but we've managed to stay friends) and I told him about my mystery tree. He suggested that it could well be an alien tree growing alien life-form pods which will then enter my body only to emerge through my chest or back at some uncertain time and place. Then I suggested he's read and/or watched too much sci-fi. We bantered about the possibilities, each offering scenarios. We laughed.

Then I tried to go to sleep. With visions of The X Files dancing in my head.

There are other clues. Or not. There is the bicycle on top of my garage, festooned with Christmas lights.

And, there's the "root cellar," leading into some sort of strange chamber.

Okay. Maybe that really is a root cellar. But, that does not explain the bicycle.  "E.T.  Phone home,"  ring a bell?

First thing this morning, I walked out in a light rain to my perennial garden, where the green leaves have turned to gold, picked a couple of the fruit and brought them inside, with mild trepidation. I stared them down and then cut into them. Voila!  One had three pits, or stones, and the other had only one, slightly larger. Nothing cataclysmic. Nothing other-worldly. So far, so good.

But, here I am, occasionally looking over my shoulder at the fruit lying on the kitchen counter, still wondering. And watching.

Please tell me you know.

P.S. JB was the one born in 1947. You know, the year of the Roswell Incident?  Yeaaah.


  1. Gasp! I have pictures of this same pod!! I didn't have the courage to break it open, though. Uh oh. I asked our landscape architect what it is and he doesn't know. No one in these parts knows. Maybe the mystery can be solved here.

  2. I've spent the last 20 minutes Googling first thought was that your mystery is in the sabra family, really odd because that fruit requires really hot climes year-round and there aren't enough prickly things...then I thought of Indonesian pawpaw but know those seeds are different. This is really strange...curious to see what others know so will check back...this is a really fun post, Teresa...thanks!!

  3. Love your blog. Those do look like horse chestnuts. Very common here in the North East. They have white flowers in the spring and very wide leaves.

  4. That is a horse chestnut or possibly a buckeye. Google "horse chestnut image" and you'll find it. We have a horse chestnut in our's a huge tree, not really good for a small urban backyard. This may not be an issue for you, but it's messy...the flower petals fall and cover the ground, then the squirrels gnaw off the fleshy part surrounding the nut and leave piles of it everywhere (and dig around burying the nuts), and then the leaves fall. You think you're done. Then hundreds of little sprigs plant themselves vertically in the ground. Your trees are young; if you let them, they'll grow as tall as a three-story house, and very wide.

  5. I think you're right. Horse chestnut it is. Not terribly exotic, but I'm glad to know. A chestnut of some type crossed my mind, but I didn't explore more because it seemed to have too much creamy fruit inside and I expected a dark, slightly hard inner shell. Mystery solved! Thank you for checking it out and to Cape Cod Kitty and Blissed-out Grandma for providing the answer. Yeah!!!

  6. Unless it's not...maybe it just wants us to Think it's a horse chestnut.... :)

  7. I will add my bit - I don't think it's a horse chestnut as they usually have only one nut but I think it could be a chestnut of some sort - but is it edible??

  8. Thank you, Marilyn. After doing some more research, I'm not sure it is, either. Confusing. The horse chestnut does seem to have a darker brown inner skin or something, which this does not at all. And, one of them did have three nuts inside, the other only one.

  9. More research: Some chestnuts do have up to three nuts inside, so I think it belongs to this family and is probably the horse chestnut. My six trees are all fairly small at this stage and may have been planted too close together. So much to learn about this place!

  10. Yup..... Looks like a chestnut.....Or at least in that family. We had them when I grew up in Mn. My Father was a tree guy. He grew black walnut and all those hard wood nutty trees. It takes years to grow the hard woods and last time I visited MN all the trees had been cut down and it was residential. So sad to cut down trees. Lucky you to have so many neat trees.

  11. Under the spreading chestnut tree,
    the village smithy stands.

  12. Manzanita! I am indeed lucky. Minnesota has lost a lot of trees. I do love my trees.

    "and the muscles of his brawny arms are strong as iron bands.

    His hair is crisp, and black, and long.
    His face is...

    Oh, sorry, Linda. I got sidetracked. :)

  13. This is a terrific post, Teresa...I love a mystery and it looks like you've got one on your hands. Having never seen a chestnut "in the raw" I haven't a clue whether or not that's what these are but I'm going to keep checking back to see if there's a definitive conclusion!! So...can you eat these?? I guess if they aren't killing the squirrels, they're probably not toxic. But are they yummy? Hmmmm. Another mystery.

  14. P.S. Did you ever go down in the root cellar? Not sure I'd venture there alone, at first. But then, I'm a big old chicken.

  15. Hi Cheryl! A friend just emailed me and said his grandfather had one on his farm in ND and he is certain it's a horse chestnut. He also said it has spectacular white blossoms in the spring, which I missed, as I moved here mid-June, but I look forward to next year! The nuts have toxins unless leached out. I will not be eating them! I'm glad you enjoyed my mystery. :) I ventured into the root cellar when the neighbor came by and offered to go first! It was fun, but not real usable as is. Steps leading down into a low-roofed, long space. I like knowing I have it, though.

  16. Aesculus glabra (Ohio buckeye)