Sunday, November 8, 2009

Osage Orange - Maclura Pomifera

They look like alien pods, but in the Ozarks we call them hedge apples, as did Captain Meriwether Lewis when he sent samples home to President Jefferson. A resident of St. Louis, Pierre Chouteau, had received slips of this tree from the Osage Indians in Missouri, and shared samples with Lewis, who seemed to be fascinated by the fruit of the tree. We are not much impressed with them around here. At this particular time of year, the fruit can be found all over the ground beneath the host tree. Most people don’t grow these trees on purpose anymore , and many are found growing wild along the roadside. I dislike driving under a hedge apple tree, as I’m afraid one will fall off the tree and land on my car, causing a considerable dent.

According to the book, another name for the tree is “bois d’arc” or bow-tree. I found this interesting because there is a small town not far from here that is named “Bois D’Arc”. A can only assume that the towns original settlers found an abundance of osage apples.

I also learned from this book that the common name of ‘hedge apple’ was probably derived from the old custom of using the tree as a hedge for cattle.

Common to This Country, Botanical Discoveries of Lewis & Clark by Susan H. Munger


Nicki said...

Thanks for stopping by my site! Funny...we had one of these trees on our street. We affectionately called it the "skull cracker" for the same reason you don't want them falling on your car. Also, they look like brains. So, my question is...are they edible and if so, how do we use them?? It would be awesome if they were used for food instead of softballs!

mangocheeks said...

I've never seen anything like this before. Awesome to look at, but are they edible?

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Missouri and my grandparents had two uses for the hedge tree or hedge apples that I can remember. Grandpa tried to use posts from a hedge tree for corner post when building a fence, he said that they lasted a long time in the ground. My grandmother used hedge apples in the closet, she said they would keep the moths away! Don't know if there is any validity to either of these but they are my memories from my childhood.