Farming is the fourth largest industry in the state of Indiana, contributing $25 billion dollars annually to the economy. Although the state is best known for producing soybeans, corn and pork, there are also a variety of fruits and vegetables grown. Watermelon fields are abundant in the southern part of the state, and a wide variety of native tree fruits are found from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River.
The fruit of the Pawpaw tree has sometimes been called the "Indiana Banana" Some of the varieties found in the Hoosier State include 'Overleese,' 'Taytwo,' 'Mary (Foos) Johnson' and 'Sunflower.' The trees grow less than 15 feet tall and have maroon-colored blooms in spring. These mature into a large green berries that turn yellow when ripe. The fruit tastes like a mixture of a pineapple and banana. It is a nutritious fruit with high levels of vitamins A and C.
The persimmon is a fall fruit found in many Hoosier kitchens. Diospyros virginania is the more common species of this fruit tree found in Indiana. The tree grows up to 25 feet tall and produces small organish fruit that resemble cherry tomatoes. A persimmon is fleshy and should be soft when ripened. If eaten before it is allowed to ripen completely, the persimmon will be bitter. After ripening, the fruit tastes something like an apricot. It is a favorite for making jams, jellies and persimmon pudding, which is actually more like a cake than a pudding.
The crabapple is a popular species of tree in Indiana because it is resistant to apple scab and Japanese beetle, which are both problems in the state. The trees are 15 to 20 feet high and produce white blooms similar to those of apple trees. The resulting fruit resembles a tiny apple which is bitter in taste. It is most often used for making jelly.
The black cherry tree is found all over the state of Indiana. It produces white blooms that are shaped like a wisteria flower in spring. The fruit is small, reddish-black in color and not as tart as the fruit of red cherries. The bark of the trees is a deep black. The wood of the black cherry tree is often used in making fine furniture.
The American plum tree is more common throughout the central region of Indiana and along the Ohio River in the southern portion of the state. It grows to be 30 feet tall and produces a blossom resembling that of the dogwood. The fruit starts as a yellow berry and eventually turns a reddish-orange color. The fruit is about three-quarters the size of an average purple plum. Wildlife and birds are especially attracted to this fruit tree.