Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Pond apple is not an apple but a tree associated with wetlands from Central Florida south through the Caribbean and American tropics. It belongs to the custard apple family, and is related to our North American pawpaw. Pond apple produces an apple-sized, avocado-shaped, apple-like fruit. But don't bother biting into a pond apple. While savored by raccoons and an important wildlife food, humans find them hard and bitter. Most pond apple trees top out at 30-35 feet with a relatively open, rounded, and spreading canopy. Branches start from a short trunk and at old age, pond apple trees become gnarled and twisted. Pond apple leaves are deep-green with a yellow midrib. They're oval, leathery, evergreen, and can be five inches or more in length. From April to June, pond apples produce creamy yellow-white flowers that by late summer give rise to hard green pond apples. These ripen to yellow-green from September to November. Pond apple trees are abundant along the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Sanctuary in Collier County, Florida where white ibis and other swamp waders can often be seen feeding in the waters below.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.