The fruit... I understand pomegranates don't bear fruit in the UK due to cold weather, but I'd think you'd at least have seen one, David...
Anyway, that's what it is: a spontaneously opened overripe pomegranate.
Contrasty and bright scenes sure are hard on digital cameras, and lenses, so they're pretty good test situations, I think (fototestes = photo tests).
I don't consider the 85mm bad at all; much on the contrary I find it exceptionally good. Only, I found it does consistently show a considerable amount of quite weird chromatic aberrations under certain circumstances. You can avoid that problem most of times -- but to do that you must be aware of it, is all.