A disclaimer on my tasting notes: many of the items that are being sold as being unusual edibles, many of which are processed into preserves or fruit. For me, I am far more interested in having fresh fruit as many months out of the year as I can. So I have to admit that I ended up turning my nose at quite a few fruits that would taste good sugared and made into preserves or juice, but I feel that I need to steer clear of the sugared products. And I don't want to have to work too much.
If you are short on time, the most interesting of the unusual fruits to me were the pawpaws (which I already have), pineapple guava, astringent type persimmon, and the carraway crabapple.
First on our tour was the fig trees. The lady that was hosting the tour said that figs tend to grow very well in our climate (zone 8) but whether or not they ripen here is another question. She said that you want to make sure that the nursery that sells the tree has actually tasted fruit off the tree to verify that it is a variety that will produce fruit in this area. She said that Desert King is the absolute best variety for our region. Laturella is also a nice variety. Desert King is also frost resistant where most varieties are not.
More notes: She said that figs produce a summer crop and a fall crop. Most figs will produce both crops but you can buy varieties that will do only one or the other. Supermarket varieties suck if they haven't been ripened on the vine. The neck of the fig will droop when it is ripe. Kiwis bear fruit on wood that grew the previous year.
|Desert King Fig.... roughly 8 years old.|
|Laterella (sp?) fig.|
Next stop is the hazelnut, which is native to this area. Eastern hazelnut blight is a big problem, and the symptoms are shown in the photograph. There are varieties that are starting to come out that are blight immune. Cut out branches that are infected.
|Hazelnut showing signs of hazelnut blight.|
|Large hazelnut tree.|
The next specimen of interest is the Akebia vine. They are semi-evergreen. Not the choicest of edibles but has a very pretty bloom. She said that some are using akebias in place of peppers for stuffed peppers.
|Semi-evergreen akebia vines.|
|Closer pic of the akebia with kiwi growing through the middle.|
The next photo is of a Bayberry. All I remember her saying was that some use it in pilaf.
|This photo is a pallonia (sp?) tree. Value is mostly in the wood. Very warp resistant.|
|American persimmon roughly 25 years old.|
|An unripe American persimmon.|
|Unripe Asian Persimmon fruit|
|She's excited about this new growth on the persimmon.|
The Cornelian Cherry is a fruit you have to eat when completely ripe.
|Tastings of the Cornelian Cherry. They are sooo sour. There were a few sauces made with them which weren't bad.|
This currant is showing signs of aphid damage, which looks like a fungal problem but isn't. Typically currants will ripen in July.
The Jujube or Chinese date will turn brown when ripe. The fresh texture is like an apple. Dried, it is truly very much like a date. There are some reported benefits of cholesterol reductions. Ripens mid-october and will keep for 1-2 months.
|The Chinese Date or Jujube|
The Chinese dogwood was bred for ornamental fruit. Pick when very red. They taste very blah to me. The "Julian" variety was the taste test winner.