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Our purple/copper beech has produced fruit - is it edible?

(12 Posts)
glasjam Sat 25-Jul-09 20:39:08

I'm no gardener but have just moved into a house with a beautiful dark purple-leafed tree in the front garden. It has produced gorgeous, shiny, red-purpley fruit the size of a small plum or an oversized cherry. Someone told me that it was a copper beech but I've googled that and that seems to produce a rather hairy looking nut rather than a fruit. So perhaps it's not a copper beech. I cannot be entirely sure but I thought I saw the tree in blossom in the spring (before I moved in). The fruit is pretty sparsely spread throughout the tree so it's not a cherry tree I don't think.

Anyone got any ideas?

Tangle Sat 25-Jul-09 23:42:34

From what you've said it sounds more like a cherry than a beech to me - you're right in that beech trees produce nuts in little hairy cases (I always figured they looked like pixie hats when they opened!) so if there are fruits its definitely not a beech.

Do the fruits have stones?

The number and size of cherries on a tree will depend on the variety, the health of the plant, its growing conditions and the weather throughout the last growing year - there also seems to be a pattern in that if last year had a bumper crop this year will be more sparse. Oh, and how many the birds have already eaten! I wouldn't rule out the cherry option based on the number of fruit.

Could you post a picture? Or alternatively, take a sample with leaves and a fruit to a good garden centre and they should be able to tell you

glasjam Sun 26-Jul-09 00:34:57

Thanks Tangle - I shall go out tommorrow and see if there is a stone inside and report back. I was puzzled and frustrated today and thought a mumsnet post would give me some answers quite quickly! I promise to report back once I get a definitive answer.

frisbyrat Sun 26-Jul-09 13:28:30

Sounds like a wild plum to me. Yummy fruit!
[disclaimer: check before you eat though].

glasjam Mon 27-Jul-09 13:39:42

Thanks Frisbyrat - it just seems a bit odd that there isn't a great deal of fruit, just a smattering of large-ish rather juicy looking fruit. I've collected a load up with a view to letting my 5 year old DS muck around with them in his den - mush them up and mix them with mud and other such delightful stuff - didn't want to be doing that until I confirmed there wasn't any likelihood of it being poisonous!

frisbyrat Tue 28-Jul-09 16:29:56

Hmm, wild plums tend to be quite prolific, and their fruit about the size of home-grown greengages. Maybe you should be a bit cautious...

GrungeBlobPrimpants Tue 28-Jul-09 16:41:41

Deffo not a beech -they produce nuts not fruit

Sounds like type of plum/cherry, or poss a type of crab apple. Google image 'prunus' and see if that brings up anything that looks like your tree? I certainly wouldn't attempt to eat the fruit - may not be poisonous but would certainly give you or your ds a griping tummy ache!

frisbyrat Tue 28-Jul-09 22:00:16

Is it a cherry plum? That comes in both green and purple-leaved varieties, and the fruit can be yellow or red, about 3cm across

Or crab apple 'Profusion'.

What shape are the leaves? That would be a big help in identifying. And the bark colour/texture. Can you remember seeing the blossom on it?

glasjam Wed 29-Jul-09 12:06:34

Right it could be a cherry plum. I think I remember seeing some blossom on it earlier in the year and was disappointed when someone told me that it was a copper beech because I thought that I must have hallucinated seeing the blossom - so maybe I wasn't!

I checked and the fruit has a definite, almond-shaped stone inside. The leaves of the tree are a very beautiful dark purplely brown - I have one in my hand now - how would I describe it? Well it's, again, almond-shaped, about 2 inches long with a central vein with lots of smaller veins coming off it to the sides (you can tell I'm not a horticulturalist, my terminology is completely up the spout!) the edges are serated slightly or zig-zaggy but not dramatically so - the underside is paler browny purple - it's smooth and has no hairs/bristles. The bark is greeny/brown and... I'm struggling now... ordinary-looking?!

I know I could just take the leaf and fruit and leaf to a garden centre but this is much more fun!

frisbyrat Wed 29-Jul-09 23:32:34

I say it's a plum. Eat it!

<sits back expectantly>

Lucky you, by the way... would love a nice plum tree.

Tangle Thu 30-Jul-09 22:39:03

It definitely sounds like its from the plum/cherry family (prunus, if you want to get technical), but that's quite wide ranging. I think most of the fruits are edible, but some are pretty sour (have you ever tried to eat a sloe?). If we've got the ID broadly right then eating it is unlikely to do you any harm - but if it were me I'd take it to the garden centre and make sure first

greenfanta Sun 09-Aug-09 23:49:25

frisbyrat, i think you may have given some bad advice...

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