Plants & Gardens Blog

Fruits on the Cusp

There’s a special kind of delight in encountering fruit in the context of their cultivation, especially before they ripen to their more recognizable size and color. You can find these fruits on the cusp of maturity all throughout the Herb Garden, like blueberries turning from green to blue on the stems of Vaccinium corymbosum.

Green-blue blueberries on a shrub with small ovate leaves
Vaccinium coymbosum (blueberry) in the Herb Garden. Photo by Michael Stewart.

I love when those subtle but significant characteristics of a fruit begin to take shape—the textures and curves that make one fruit identifiable and distinct from another, like the teardrop-shaped figs growing along the branches of Ficus carica. Or apples’ signature dimpled cusps that form where the stem meets the fruit.

Two green fig fruits tinged with purple grow on a green stem with large green leaves
Ficus carica ‘LSU Purple’ (common fig) in the Herb Garden. Photo by Michael Stewart.
Small green-red apples grow on branches alongside green foliage.
Malus domestica ‘Liberty’ (apple) in the Herb Garden. Photo by Michael Stewart.

Clusters of pawpaw fruit are maturing—some more quickly than others—on the branches of Asimina triloba. Pawpaws are best eaten when they are soft to the touch, often after they have already fallen from the tree.

A cluster of light green pawpaw fruits grow from a thin woody branch
Asimina triloba cv. (pawpaw hybrid) in the Herb Garden. Photo by Michael Stewart.

There’s a sense of anticipation that comes from noticing fruit in its still-green, unripe state.

A cluster of small green and red strawberries grow alongside green leaves.
Fragaria × ananassa (garden strawberry) in the Herb Garden. Photo by Michael Stewart.

You can find fruit in other parts the Garden, too. I’ll often take visiting friends to the pergolas at the southern end of the Garden, which cover the path between the Water Garden and compost exhibit. It’s a cool and shady spot to pause on a hot summer day, and it never fails to surprise when I tell them to “look up!” and they see the beginnings of fuzzy kiwi forming on the vine.

Clusters of kiwi fruit dangle from leafy vines
Actinidia arguta (hardy kiwi vine) in the Plant Family Collection. Photo by Michael Stewart.

Kathryn Tam is editor of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s digital editorial content.

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Image, top of page: Michael Stewart