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“Turd Tree” in the Industrial Park – What is it?

In the quest to become a more rounded naturalist (aside from “just” birds) I have been constantly looking at plants, insects, and everything else wild I encounter. As the “nature lover” at work, it is oft assumed that I know the answer to anything outdoor related. Sadly, this is not the case.

But I do have a lot of resources and it is fun to learn what things are. I have often felt that much of the joy of birding is putting names to species. I can enjoy seeing birds but knowing more about them is so much better.

I walk with a group of coworkers on break to enjoy the fresh air and listen in on some of the daily gossip, er news. I work in an industrial park but there is plenty of shrubby habitat and attempts to landscape in what would otherwise be a sea of buildings and parking lots.

On one of our walks we discovered a peculiar stench and once we determined no one dumped a body in the vacant lot, we discovered it was the blossoms of a tree. I was asked what it was so took a few shots with the iPhone and checked with The Sibley Guide to Trees. A coworker called it the “turd tree” although I think it smelt much worse than turds.

From what I could determine, the tree appears to be an American Plum (Prunus americana). From Sibley: “flowers 1 inch, white, early spring before leaves (Mar-May) in 2-5 flowered umbels, fragrant, ill-smelling“. That sounds just about right!

I love getting outside away from the computer and enjoying the fresh, spring air. Well, not so fresh when close to the “turd tree”.


  1. Dina Johnston Dina Johnston

    The stinky trees could also be a bradford pear tree. They are all over Atlanta and they smell really bad. They don’t actually bear fruit.

  2. The Birdfreak Team The Birdfreak Team

    Do they smell like rotting flesh? [I’ll have to make sure to take pictures in the summer and fall and then I’ll hopefully know for sure what it is.]

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