Not many people may be aware that Vienna is home to one unique tree specie. The chequer tree is an ancient and very rare tree that can be found in Brand-Laaben in the Vienna Woods.
Also known as Elsbeerbaum in German, this tree bears fruit particularly between the months of May and September.
Visitors in Vienna who would like to learn about the culture of this chequer tree and taste the fruit should join a hiking tour. It is even recommended that you spend a night there for a unique experience.
While the chequer tree can also be found in other parts of Europe, it is only in the Vienna area where the tradition of eating the fruit still remains. Whether fresh or dried, the chequer fruit is normally transformed into distillates and other products.
The fruit looks like cherries but slightly smaller and has a darker red color. It also has an intense bitter taste. After harvesting, the fruits are kept in a cool dry place for a week until they are ripe.
Today, producers are also drying the fruit and offering it as an apertif or digestif nibble. It is also used as a filling in chocolates while some local chefs use it in making a variety of dishes.
Interestingly, a communal and traditional activity common in the area known as orowen in Viennese involves the tipping of the chequer fruit and branches onto a table where the whole family gathers. They all then help separate the fruit from the twigs.