Fallen fruit is expected in orchards and gardens, because a percentage of the crop drops due to disease, insect damage and wind. Other types of landscaping trees grown for shade and beauty may also produce a surprising amount of fruit. Usually small and inedible, these fruit may follow the usual pattern of orchard crops and fall at the end of summer or may hold fast to the tree until spring. If the branches extend over sidewalks, driveways and patios, fallen fruit could create an unpleasant mess and nearly permanent stains.
The Chickasaw plum's southern cousin--the wild goose plum--bears heavy crops of small 1/2- to 3/4-inch diameter blue fruits with single seeds like those in market plums and peaches. These wild American plums often grow in fencerows.
Italian or Stanley prune plums bear large blue to bluish-red fruits from 2 to 3 inches in length. The trees grow only 10 to 15 feet high and produce heavier crops in alternate years. Fruit often hangs on the tree until soft and overripe, smashing when it falls.
Sour cherries show a redder color than sweet cherries, which may be a dark purplish-black when ripe. Few sweet cherries survive long enough to fall, because the fruit attracts many species of birds and animals as well as people.
Sand cherries bear 1/2-inch diameter or smaller dark-reddish-purple cherries in dense clusters along fruiting stems. These 6- to 8-foot trees are often used as ornamental hedge plants. The fruits are edible but have a bitter aftertaste. Fallen fruit often keeps its shape--fruit still on the tree after first frost changes color to bronze-green.
American persimmons bear consistently heavy crops of rounded orange fruits that turn to a dusty purple color as they ripen. The fruits range in size from 1 to 2 inches in diameter, often falling when overripe and soft enough to splatter on impact. Flesh is soft and orange, darkening as it dries, and contains several large seeds.
Grapevines hidden in the canopies of hardwood trees could be the source of fallen fruits from 1/4 inch to more than 1 inch in diameter, depending on variety and species. Fox grapes bear clusters of small and very sour bluish grapes; wild muscadines may be large and sweet. Muscadines, a southern American species, vary in color but many are dark blue with a tough skin and lighter colored pulp.