Public Fruit
June 24, 2013 6:57 PM   Subscribe

Want to find fruit on publicly owned land? offers utilitarian maps showing public fruit locations in several countries (eg, lillypilly trees in Melbourne, Australia; breadfruit trees in Mauritius; apple trees in Prague). is a collaborative artists' project that includes hand-drawn maps of public fruit trees in specific neighbourhoods of cities in the United States (California and Colorado especially), as well as a few international locations including Guadelajara, Mexico, Malmo, Sweden, and Herlev, Denmark.

There's also, but it covers only the United States and requires registration to see specific fruit locations. This site offers a liability waiver to reassure fruit tree owners who want to connect with would-be pickers through but are anxious about being sued if anything goes wrong.

YMMV. For example, Fallingfruit and Neighborhoodfruit make San Francisco look like a cornucopia, but many of the points are for ornamental varieties of plum, loquat, etc. (ie, fruit, if any, will probably be sparse and of inferior quality).

Previously. Previouslier.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus (37 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
There are THOUSANDS of hits in my neighborhood... and about two-thirds seem to be linden trees, which, yeah I guess the flowers can be used in tea but it ain't free apples. I wish there was a way to filter out certain types of plants.

Still... pretty damn cool.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:30 PM on June 24, 2013

It's mulberry time! They are everywhere in Pittsburgh and it's fun to stop and have a snack while taking a walk. I didn't see any of our local trees on the map above, but I could submit the geospatial data I took while foraging and testing some work software at the same time.

I'm teaching my daughter how to find trees with ripe fruit by looking at the sidewalk. The area underneath the tree will be stained purple. We went picking in an alley a block over from our house and she ended up with purple hands and a purple face and purple clothes after walking between the trees and stuffing her face.

My favorite way to eat mulberries (besides off of the tree) is baked into a shortbread tart.

Filling Ingredients:
~1 cup of mulberries
1/4 cup of sugar
3 tbsp of tapioca pearls
2 tbsp flour

Combine and set aside until you're ready to bake the crust.

Crust Ingredients:
1 cup bread flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick of chilled, diced, unsalted butter
1/4 cup of chilled water

Mix the dry ingredients and use a fork to cut in the butter until the mixture looks like graham cracker crumbles and there are no pieces of butter bigger than a pea remaining. Add the water slowly and while rolling up the dough into a ball. Separate into four pieces and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll the dough into 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick disks touching them as little as possible with your hands. Place each disk on a cookie sheet and add a few heaping tablespoons (or more) of berries into the center of the circle and fold up the sides.

Chill the cookie sheet in the fridge for a little while and bake for 25 minutes.
posted by Alison at 7:50 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

I love this so much. When I was in Oxford, I knew where every public apple tree, pear tree, and blackberry bush was. One summer, I collected 30 gallons--no joke--of blackberries and filled the freezers of every person I knew.
posted by yellowcandy at 7:51 PM on June 24, 2013

In Toronto, there's Not Far From the Tree. Volunteer to pick backyard fruit and 1/3 goes to the home owner, 1/3 to charity, and 1/3 is shared among the volunteer pickers.
posted by maudlin at 8:10 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

One of the most frustrating things on my block is that there is someone about halfway up the block that has a huge pear tree on their property - and they just let the fruit fall every year. I've never seen them pick it. I've left two notes on the door asking if I could just come pick it, and offering them a couple jars of homemade pear butter in exchange, word.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:11 PM on June 24, 2013

In case anyone read the recent apple thread, I want to note that the site does not include the crabapple trees in the park that I steal branches from in order to crosspollinate my honeycrisp tree, but that's not going to stop me. Also I now know a lot of other trees I can steal from, so, awesome.
posted by padraigin at 8:13 PM on June 24, 2013

Some friends of mine made a map of Sarasota's edible goodness about 10 years ago. Starfruit, mango, lychee....they may have included coconuts. I never actually saw the map, because I didn't need it. I lived in a great neighborhood there, with an abundance of free fruit. (And when I was a little kid in Baltimore I knew every edible fruit tree in my neighborhood...)
posted by bilabial at 8:17 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Want to find fruit on publicly owned land?

Worst. Pickup line. Ever.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:18 PM on June 24, 2013 [8 favorites]

When I was in Oxford, I knew where every public apple tree, pear tree, and blackberry bush was.

Blackberries? It's legitimate to add blackberries to this?

I'm going to go add every creek in Tasmania...
posted by Jimbob at 8:21 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Some of the locations near me seem to be added by the "Stanford Gleaning Project". I wonder if that was the group that used to clear out the persimmon near where I worked on campus -- I saw a group of people doing an organized job of it one year, and I assume they did so other years as well.

They appear to donate it to a free farm stand in the Mission. Which is certainly worthy, but kind of a pity they don't do East Palo Alto as well, though.
posted by tavella at 8:34 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

According to this database Halifax, Nova Scotia's wild fruit consists of two white pine trees. Is contributor 'larryb' a beaver?
I did though come across a single, delicious, wild strawberry just outside of the city this evening, but the location of this plant remains secret.
posted by Flashman at 8:41 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

It is possible to eat White Pine Nuts, apparently.
posted by Jimbob at 8:45 PM on June 24, 2013

Wow, I've eaten pinoli from trees in Italy (Scotch pine?), but I never knew that white pines also had nuts. I'll have to investigate.
posted by Flashman at 8:58 PM on June 24, 2013

Wow, I remember this site (or something very much like it?) from a few years back when it covered just a few hipster neighborhoods in LA and a couple of other cities, and it just had regular maps
posted by Bwithh at 9:07 PM on June 24, 2013

I had some very good small yellow plums from a tree in a friend's front yard in Ashbury Heights, SF, and I'm sure there are many more around the city. Also picked excellent Meyer lemons from sidewalk-overhanging trees in Berkeley that were just bursting with fruit. Here in Montreal I notice the map mainly includes trees downtown, which I'd avoid due to the car pollution, and which include a lot of honey locusts, which is not what I think of when I think of fruit. (They're widely planted because they're a hardy tree that can withstand compacted soil and other urban stresses.)
posted by Philofacts at 9:32 PM on June 24, 2013

I'm going to go add every creek in Tasmania...

Do they not spray them?

Where I first grew up was covered in blackberries, and it was a source of unending pain that the council sprayed them all, so they were inedible. I mean: yeah, introduced, terrible blight, all that, but yummy...
posted by pompomtom at 9:52 PM on June 24, 2013

There's a pair of fig trees I walk past every day when I take the dog out. They're full of fruit right now, but none of it seems to be ripe yet.

I have no idea what to even do with a fig I would pick off the tree. Do I just bite into it? Does it have to be peeled? None of the fruits on the tree even remotely resemble fig newtons.
posted by Sara C. at 9:52 PM on June 24, 2013 L.A. it's practically a map of hipsters...but yeah I can slink into some skinny jeans for some free peaches :9
posted by sexyrobot at 9:55 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sara C: if the fig is soft to the touch it's ripe; pick it by twisting it off the branch; finicky fig-pickers will peel them (from the top, in strips), otherwise just splay it open from the bottom and bite into it until there's nothing left but the skin. (Sticky hands are unavoidable either way.)
Alison: mulberry granita - I don't have a recipe to hand, but... it's so worth the effort.
posted by progosk at 10:41 PM on June 24, 2013

Do they not spray them?

They well do. Doesn't deter the people I see picking them along the roadsides every summer...
posted by Jimbob at 11:06 PM on June 24, 2013

Man, my hometown is full of random mango trees. Big ass juicy looking green mangoes hanging out over the road. Until quite recently there were places in Taringa and Toowong where you had to be careful driving over slicks of not-quite-ripe mangoes.

Of course, nobody gets to eat them. Because we also have the biggest army of possums and fruit bats in the known world. The second they go from gut twistingly unripe to even mildy edible they descent out of the skies and gobble the lot. Those bastards. Those fat, contented bastards.
posted by Jilder at 11:21 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

We had a lillypilly tree in our back garden. They make great ammo for throwing at each other, stinging a bit and leaving a pink mark. Paintball for kids.
posted by robcorr at 11:45 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Of course, nobody gets to eat them. Because we also have the biggest army of possums and fruit bats in the known world.

Heh, when I lived in Darwin, we had a great mango tree in our yard. Taller than our 2-storey house. Fruit bats got then all, every year.
posted by Jimbob at 11:55 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Who on earth gets excited about eating lillypillies?
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:31 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Joe in Australia This guy!

But even more so, my brother. He makes lilipilli jam. He picks mulberry trees clean from Bondi to Bankstown. He has a book of indigenous edible weeds, and picks pigface, and greens and all sorts of things that you'd hit with the zero wand.

One day we even picked all the ping pong ball sized nuts from the trees at the far edge of Camperdown Park. They are an indigenous nut, that he had read about. To eat them you need to soak them overnight so the poisonous alkaloids leech out of them, then boil them till they supposedly soften like baked potatos. We left them soaking while we read up on them some more. Apparently the early colonists tried eating them, following the natives instructions, and suffered crippling stomach cramps. The local natives had long since become accustomed to whatever inedible chemical was keeping the European settlers doubled over in agony.
posted by robotot at 1:03 AM on June 25, 2013

I don't mind lillipillies, but too many gives me a tummy ache.

I also forgot to mention the ill-advised bunya pines planted in the backyard of one of my rental places. Drops nut clusters the size of a medicine ball and just as lethal if they collect you on the way down. I harvested one, and let me tell you, there is only so much pesto any one human being can take. Did make my house smell all piney though.
posted by Jilder at 2:43 AM on June 25, 2013

there is no fallen fruit
in canberra
only frost
and bitter herbs
on roundabouts
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:09 AM on June 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Dumpster behind Trader Joe's

Odd, never heard of that kind of tree before.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:16 AM on June 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

I remember the elderly Italian ladies who used to (probably still do) gather baskets of olives from the trees in the Adelaide parklands. What they didn't take got eaten by corellas, whose white plumage was stained by olive juice until they looked like they were feasting on blood. It was awesome.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:20 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

According to the map my neighborhood is rife with something called the "honey locust". I was looking for something a little more useful.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:45 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sara C. you don't need to peel figs. Just split it open from the bottom (because of, uh, potential wasps) and then snack on it!
posted by lydhre at 6:05 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

The second they go from gut twistingly unripe to even mildy edible they descent out of the skies and gobble the lot. Those bastards. Those fat, contented bastards.

Mangoes can be harvested earlier than people think. Bring them inside, cover a table with newspaper and lay the mangoes out to ripen. Sure, you have to give up a table while you wait. BUT you don't have to battle so much with the vermin.

You can also slice the first mango you picked and take a look at the interior color to see if you should wait to pick the rest. You want more than a touch of color inside.

When picking from a mango tree, start with all the outside fruit. Then wait a few days and pick the inside fruit.
posted by bilabial at 6:51 AM on June 25, 2013

Just steal it from a block over.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:27 AM on June 25, 2013

I have a deal with 2 of my neighbors. I pick some of their fruit and they get random preserves and marmalades on their doorsteps every so often. Works for everyone!

I am desperately looking for a spare elderberry somewhere around my neighborhood that hasn't been picked clean.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:10 AM on June 25, 2013

They have the pecan trees in my part of town listed. SO MANY TASTY PECANS.

They also have the gingko trees in my neighborhood listed, the big stinky things (although the fall foliage is gorgeous).
posted by pointystick at 10:11 AM on June 25, 2013

A guy I know here in town has a small cider operation and one of his first varieties (South Sounder) is made from a mix of whatever people he knew had to give away. It's actually really good. I sort of wished we still had The World's Tallest Crabapple tree so we could've participated, but that thing was a PITA and kind of an eyesore, which is why we cut it down.

Falling Fruit doesn't seem to include all of the zillions of blackberry brambles. I'm wondering if I should add the ones along the bike trail, at least; one summer, back when I commuted that way, I brought a bucket and collected enough berries to make a couple of jars of jam. So good.

OTOH, it does show that there's huckleberries in the woods near my office, which I didn't know, and which is pretty cool.

Yay Pacific NW Summer!
posted by epersonae at 11:26 AM on June 25, 2013

pointystick, I'll come to your neighborhood and shake all the gingko nuts down. Grilled with salt, they are truly excellent bar/brain food.

Here in Honolulu it's mango season, so there's been brisk trade between friends who have mango trees and those who do not. I mapped a neighborhood near the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus - four luscious mango trees on one short block! A lot of them actually have two or even three varieties grafted onto one tree.
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:43 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

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