In Georgia, the types of wild fruit trees include Persimmon, Pawpaw, Mayhaw, Serviceberry, Blackberry bushes and Wild plum trees. These trees can be found growing in forests, along riverbanks, and in abandoned fields and pastures.
In this blog post, we will explore the different types of wild fruit trees that can be found in Georgia, their identification and characteristics, and tips for harvesting and using these wild fruits.
Whether you’re a seasoned forager or just starting to learn about wild fruits, this guide will help you discover the hidden gems of the Georgia wilderness.
Types of Wild Fruit Trees in Georgia
Georgia is home to a variety of wild fruit trees that offer a delicious and nutritious bounty for foragers and nature enthusiasts. These trees can be found growing in forests, along riverbanks, and in abandoned fields and pastures.
Here are some of the most common wild fruit trees that can be found in Georgia:
- Persimmon Trees: Persimmon trees are native to Georgia and can be found throughout the state. They have a distinct orange or yellow fruit that is usually ripe in the fall. Persimmons are high in Vitamin A and C, and have a unique sweet and astringent flavor that is perfect for making jams, jellies, and pies.
- Pawpaw Trees: The Pawpaw tree is native to the eastern United States and can be found in Georgia. They have a greenish-yellow fruit that is about the size of a banana and has a creamy texture and a tropical flavor. The Pawpaw fruit is high in vitamin C and potassium and can be eaten raw, cooked or made into jams and jellies.
- Mayhaw Trees: Mayhaw trees are native to the southeastern United States and can be found in Georgia. They have small, red fruit that is usually ripe in the spring. Mayhaws are high in Vitamin C and can be used to make jelly, syrup, and wine.
- Serviceberry Trees: Serviceberry trees are native to Georgia and can be found throughout the state. They have small, red or purple fruit that is usually ripe in the spring. Serviceberries are high in Vitamin C and can be used to make jelly, syrup, and pies.
- Blackberry Bushes: Blackberry bushes are common in Georgia and can be found growing wild along roadsides, in fields, and in the woods. They have large, juicy black fruit that is usually ripe in the summer. Blackberries are high in Vitamin C and can be eaten raw, cooked, or made into jams and jellies.
- Wild Plum Trees: Wild plum trees are native to Georgia and can be found throughout the state. They have small, purple fruit that is usually ripe in the summer. Wild plums are high in Vitamin C and can be used to make jelly, syrup, and pies.
[Related Post: 4 Types Of Cherry Trees In Alabama]
Identification and Characteristics
When foraging for wild fruits, it is important to be able to correctly identify the tree or bush.
Each type of wild fruit tree has its own unique characteristics, including the leaves, bark, and fruit.
By learning to identify these features, you can confidently gather wild fruits without fear of mistaking them for something inedible or poisonous.
Leaves: The shape and size of the leaves can be a helpful identifying characteristic. For example, persimmon leaves are large and ovate, while pawpaw leaves are large and simple with a tropical look.
Mayhaw leaves are alternate, simple, and glossy. Serviceberry leaves are alternate, simple, and have serrated margins.
Blackberry bushes have compound leaves with 3-5 leaflets while Wild plum leaves are simple and oval-shaped.
Bark: The bark of a wild fruit tree can also be a useful identifying feature.
Persimmon trees have a dark gray, rough bark, while pawpaw trees have a smooth, gray bark.
Mayhaw trees have a smooth, gray-brown bark. Serviceberry trees have a smooth, gray bark that becomes rough and scaly with age.
Blackberry bushes have thorny stems while Wild plum trees have a smooth gray bark.
Fruit: The fruit is, of course, the most obvious identifying characteristic of a wild fruit tree.
Persimmon fruit is orange and tomato-shaped, while pawpaw fruit is green and shaped like a small, elongated melon.
Mayhaw fruit is small, red, and cherry-like. Serviceberry fruit is small, dark purple, and berry-like.
Blackberry bushes produce blackberries, while Wild plum trees produce small, red or purple plums.
Best time of year to identify wild fruit trees The best time to identify wild fruit trees is during the fruiting season, which varies depending on the tree.
Persimmon fruit ripens in late September to October, Pawpaws fruit ripens late August to September, Mayhaw fruit ripens in April and May, Serviceberry fruit ripens in May and June, Blackberries fruit ripen in June to August and Wild plums fruit ripen in July to August.
Harvesting And Using Wild Fruit
Harvesting and using wild fruit is a great way to enjoy the natural bounty of the Georgia wilderness.
However, it’s important to know when to harvest different types of wild fruit and how to safely gather it.
When to harvest: The timing of fruit harvest depends on the type of wild fruit tree. Persimmons, pawpaws, and mayhaws are typically ready to harvest in late summer or early fall.
Serviceberries, blackberries, and wild plums are usually ripe in mid to late summer.
It’s best to taste a fruit before picking it to ensure it is fully ripe and sweet.
How to safely gather wild fruit: When gathering wild fruit, it’s important to be aware of any potential hazards, such as poisonous plants or animals.
Always wear long sleeves and pants to protect your skin from scratches and bug bites.
Use a basket or container to gather the fruit, rather than a plastic bag, which can damage the fruit.
Also, be aware of any rules or regulations in place for foraging in public or private lands.
Recipes and ideas for using wild fruit: There are many ways to enjoy wild fruit.
Some popular options include making jams, jellies, and preserves, baking pies and cakes, or simply eating the fruit fresh.
Wild fruit can also be added to smoothies, salads, and yogurt. Some specific recipe ideas include:
- Persimmon bread
- Pawpaw ice cream
- Mayhaw jelly
- Serviceberry pie
- Blackberry cobbler
- Wild plum sauce
In addition, wild fruits can be dried or frozen for later use.
They are also great to make syrups, vinaigrettes, and marinades.
By harvesting and using wild fruit, you can not only enjoy delicious and nutritious food, but also help to support the ecosystem by allowing the fruits to propagate, and encouraging biodiversity.