Monday, October 17, 2011

Hedge Apples – Osage Orange “Maclura pomifera”

While attending the Pioneer Festival at Caesar Creek this weekend we spotted some Hedge Apples growing around the fenced in area of the village.

I use to see Hedge Apples at a few of the old homesteads in the area but they have mostly disappeared and been cut down now so it was a pleasant surprise to be able to see them again.

HedgeApple_Tree2 The yellow-green fruit of the Osage-orange Maclura pomifera are commonly called Hedge apples, bodark or bowwood.
The Osage Orange was introduced here in Ohio about 1800.
The Osage Indians of the southern Great Plains and the resemblance of its fruits to lime-colored oranges give it the more common name of Osage Orange. Commercially, its very strong wood is used to make the best bows for archery. When its wood is used as fence posts or laid-down timbers, it takes decades to completely rot. It was also planted in hedge rows to act as fencing with its thorny bark before Barbed wire was discovered.CC_PioneerVillage_Fence

The Osage-orange is a small- to medium-sized tree. It commonly grows 30 to 40 feet tall, occasionally as tall as 50 to 60 feet. It typically has a short trunk and a rounded or irregular crown.
HedgeApple_TreeThe leaves of the Osage-orange are a shiny medium to dark green. They turn yellow in the fall.
The stems exude a milky sap when cut. The Osage-orange is dioecious. Male and female flowers are produced on separate trees. The small, green flowers appear in May or June. The female trees produce 3- to 5- inch-diameter fruit which ripen in September or October and fall to the ground.
The "hedge apples" are not an important source of food for wildlife as most birds and animals find the fruit unpalatable. However, the thorny trees do provide nesting and cover for wildlife.
A native of portions of Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma, Osage Orange loves the prolonged hot and dry conditions of summer, and thrives in poor soils. Specimens found in the open are upright and rapidly growing in youth, becoming arching and spreading with age.
It is hardy to zones 4 to 9.

The milky juice present in the stems and fruit of the Osage-orange may cause irritation to the skin. While the fruit have been suspected of being poisonous to livestock, studies conducted in several states have been negative.
The use of the hedge apples for insect control is one of the most enduring pest management home remedies. Placement of hedge apples around the foundation or inside the basement is claimed to provide relief from cockroaches, spiders, boxelder bugs, crickets and other pests. The use of hedge apples as a pest solution is communicated as a folk tale complete with testimonials about apparent success. However, there is an absence of scientific research and therefore no valid evidence to confirm the claims of effectiveness.


Happy Gardening,


myomyohi said...

Wow, you did take me back. We used to have them on the farm where I grew up, and the farm where I lived when first married to hubby #1. It's been awhile since I've seen any... Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

T Opdycke said...

I've not seen hedge apples in years, but recently a friend told me where I could find a tree and collect a few. I better hurry before frost hits.

I so enjoyed your fall photo story.

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Lona, I've seen these fruit near my daughter's house in New Jersey and wondered what they were. Now I know.Good information. P. x

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Great review of the Osage Orange! I have seen them, though didn't know all the facts you shared. Amazing tree!

Rohrerbot said...

Great plant feature. I've never heard of this tree before and the fruit is bizarre looking.

Balisha said...

Interesting info on the Hedge Apple. I have another use for it...they make wonderful decorations for fall wreaths. I used to take them and slice them (hard to do) put them on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake them in a slow oven. They dry and curl a bit and turn dark brown.They are pretty dry when done. I would then take the slices and wire them and add to wreathes. People would always ask what they were...

Karen said...

The osage orange is a tree I've always heard about but had never seen up close and personal, til now. I think the fruit looks really alien somehow, and how interesting that the wood lasts a long time. If the fruit really would work to deter pests, I'd have my basement filled with them! lol

Wonderful post, Lona!

bakingbarb said...

I've always wanted to see an osage-orange, I'm happy to see your post!
The asters are looking grand!

Jan AKA Wammy said...

I know it is fall when we see hedge apples. We know all the spots around our area where you can find them. We decorate with them just like they do in Shakertown in Harrodsburg, KY. Thanks for all the information!

Stephanie said...

This fruit has interesting texture and colour... a bit like a rock melon. Foliage and fruit are attractive and I can see that it's good strong hedge!

Zoey said...

I have never heard of hedge apples before. A big wooden bowl of them would make a nice fall centerpiece. I wonder if they grow in Michigan.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Lona girl I have never heard of this one before ! It looks like it has a bad case of "warts" ? LOL
The wood sounds fantastic since it doesn't degrade so quickly .. no wonder it almost disappeared .. my goodness you are a walking encyclopedia girl !! (I may have spelt that wrong ?) but you get it ... right ? wink wink

Anonymous said...

Very interesting Lona. I love the way the fruit looks.

Alistair said...

Lona that is one very strange looking fruit, but the wood lasting for decades when used as garden fencing is very interesting.

Kim and Victoria said...

Wow, I'd never heard of this tree. Very interesting fruit.

Jeri Landers said...

How I love your new "look"!

I never before met a hedge apple, now I will know one, if ever we should meet. What a funny little fruit.
PS. There IS a COuntry Living Fair up in your neck of the woods, (Ohio). it is in September and just had it's 6th year. You must go next year!

Lona said...

MyOhio: It was the same with me. I had not saw any for years. Glad I got the pictures.

T: They make wonderful decorations, Grab a bunch!

Janet: The fruits are fascinating to see.

Roherbot: They are warty looking. LOL! Thanks for dropping by.

Balisha: Now that sounds like a wonderful idea for wreath making. They are difficult to cut. LOL!

Karen: If I believed they would get rid of pests I would have been picking them up off of the ground. LOL! Sometimes those old folk tales have merit though.

Barb: They are big fruits and really so look strange.

Jan: I never thought of decorating with them but I will remember that in case I find anymore.

Steph: Maybe we need to plant them under our windows here in the states to keep the thieves out. LOL! Thorns could be a great deterrent.

Joy: Girl they are the perfect Halloween fruit. LOL! Lots of warts.

hundredsofideas: I think the fruit is interesting too. It is very hard too.

Alistar: Just plain weird looking huh? LOL!

Victoria:I can understand not knowing about then, especially when they are getting so rare around here too.

Zoey: I imagine they are in Michigan somewhere. They would look pretty in a wooden bowl. Great idea!

Mitzi said...

Yes, osage oranges do grow in Michigan. Every October I visit the two area trees I know and collect bags of fruit. Several of my relatives use them for insect control. Who knows if they really work. I love to place bowls of the oranges around my home. They smell wonderful. Thanks for all the info on them.

HolleyGarden said...

Good information! I've always wondered if they were edible. I've never seen the tree here, but often see the fruit in picture. Interesting about them being a pest management solution!

Donna said...

Lona I have only heard of these fruits once and never saw them. How curious they are. Fascinating how much history our plants have.

Splendid Little Stars said...

Yay for your post! I've been trying to remember what these were called!
The asters are certainly beautiful this year!

greggo said...

lona manona- Bois'de arc. boudarc. They are everywhere here in southern Kansas. And no my goldenrod doesn't smell good. smells like a weed. lol.

Becca's Dirt said...

Well that's interesting Lona. I'm not familiar with them and we don't have them around here. What a unique plant.

Hope you aren't having to fend off lions and tigers today.

The Sage Butterfly said...

I was not familiar with hedge apples, but you have provided a nice dose of information. There is certainly a beauty about them.

Lona said...

HolleyGarden: That would be great if they really do work for pest management.

Mitzi: I figured they were in Michigan. Early settler were there also.

SplendidLittleStars: I have to stop and think every year what they are called. Getting old and forgetful. LOL!

Donna: They look very strange. LOL!

Greg: Thanks for the info on your Goldenrod. I cannot find the Slender leafed Fragrant Goldenrod anywhere.

Becca: I ask my son if he saw any lions, tigers, bears or giraffes on the way home from work.LOL! They were let loose north of us and I just hope they get them all. Yikes!

SageButterfly: I think they would make wonderful Fall decorations. Being they are warty and all. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I remember those from my childhood! I had completely forgotten about them. When you move across country, if you don't see familiar trees and shrubs, you always figure they won't grow in the new place. (or that's what I think). Thanks for the reminder.