Late-Summer, Fall Fruits for Wild Garden

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first_imgI’ve often heard folks complain about two problems with fruit trees in their yards.One is that mammals or birds are eating the fruit. “How do we stop this?”they ask.The second goes like this: “Robert, I really think we ought to cut down that crabapple. The rotten fruit always makes such a mess on the lawn.”These problems say interesting things to a backyard wildlife habitat manager. Animalsare attracted to fruit, and some trees put out a lot.The alert wildlife manager sees these problems as a benefit. Fruit attracts wildlife.Late summer is when many fruits mature. These can attract interesting animals to yourwild garden. Now, as fall begins, is a good time to drive around suburbs, parks and wildplaces and get some good ideas on what kinds of fruiting trees and shrubs to plant.You can divide your options into falling fruit and holding fruit.One of my favorite falling fruits for September is the native American crab apple. Minestarted falling in early September. By October they will all be on the ground.Crab apples are hard, astringent little apples. They aren’t a favorite with deer,raccoons or other wildlife, but that makes them desirable in a way. They last a long timeon the ground, waiting to be eaten in times of shortage.Persimmons are also a good fruit for this time of year. Individual trees vary a lot asto when they fall.A nice, gooey, squashed persimmon lying on the ground attracts certain butterflies thatdon’t seem fond of flowers. The tawny emperor, hackberry butterfly, viceroy, red-spottedpurple and some other species will suck on rotten fallen fruit.Racoons, possums and deer also love them. So do mockingbirds.Pears and apples are also good options.For fruit that hangs on the tree, I like figs. Figs attract lots of insects.Fruit-eating beetles like the beautiful figeater love figs. So do certain wasps andhornets, along with butterflies.For fruit that hangs on the tree into the winter, try the Callaway crab. Mockingbirds,possums, crows and other flying and climbing creatures will feed on it. The fruit rarelyfalls to the ground.Some of the wild offspring of the Bradford pear have fruits big enough to attractwildlife. And they last and last on the tree.last_img

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