This afternoon, some unusual looking fruits on a small tree on a worksite caught my eye:
I did not know what these fruits were, but their eye-catching reddish-pink color (the picture does not do them justice) caught my attention. They looked like overgrown crunch berries. Now, there is a plant edibility test that one can follow to determine if one can eat a strange plant. Of course, fruits are typically meant to be eaten by animals so that their seeds can be dispersed efficiently over a broad area. With their bright colors, these fruits looked especially noticeable, which usually translates to edible. I grabbed one of the softer ones and noted no adverse reaction. I broke the fruit open and licked the beige pulp, which was sweet... as a matter of fact, quite delicious. Sweet is good, we tend to enjoy the flavors of foods that are good to eat, and most plant toxins are bitter tasting. Of course, I didn't jump in and start scarfing these suckers down, sweet or not. There were a lot of hard seeds, much like the seeds of a cactus pear.
I took an additional fruit into the building in which I am working and, before I was able to look up the plant on the internet, a co-worker was able to identify it as the fruit of the Asian Dogwood (Cornus kousa). She did not think that the fruits were edible, but the Internet, which never lies, indicates that they are. Here's Green Deane's take on the fruit (he also indicates that the young leaves are sometimes eaten in Japan). Here's a nice video about the tree and its fruits:
Sampling this unknown fruit was perhaps a lapse in judgment on my part, but my instincts, which are pretty good, led me to believe that the fruit wouldn't be dangerous. I wouldn't recommend this approach to anybody unless they are desperate for sustenance, but I can now heartily recommend trying the fruit of the Kosua dogwood now that I have verified my suspicions regarding their deliciousness.
ADDENDUM: Now, this is funny... I just looked up at the office calendar, a gift from the nearby Chinese restaurant, and I spy a familiar theme:
I may be easily amused, because this cracks me up.