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