The other day I was walking to the Family Dollar down the street and happened to notice this beautiful tree living near an abandoned house across the street from our local Elementary School. I got to thinking about how nice it would be if that property could be annexed to the school for learning about plants and nature; like a nature learning center or something. There is a large field next to it I imagined being turned into a community garden and it could also be part of the learning center. I imagined children learning how to grow their own food and appreciating nature like I do.
Facts and Myths of Hedge Apples by Dr. Barbara Ogg, Extension Educator
This article appeared in the October 2001 NEBLINE Newsletter
This time of year, hedge apples – the fruit from the Osage-orange tree – are being sold at farmer’s markets, garden centers, and other locations. Many people have heard that these fruits can be used as an insect repellent, but the truth is that many people don’t know much else about this unusual tree and its fruit.
The Tree and Its Fruit:
The Osage-orange is a small to medium-sized tree, having a short trunk and a rounded or irregular crown. The twigs are buff to orange-brown and are armed with one-half inch long spines. The stems exude a milky sap when cut. The Osage-orange is dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers are produced on separate trees. The small, green flowers appear in May or June. Female trees produce 3-to 5-inch diameter fruit which ripen in September or October and fall to the ground.
Native Habitat and Current Distribution:
The Osage-orange is native to a small area in eastern Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, and southwestern Arkansas. This region is the home of the Osage Indians which gives the tree its common name. Settlers found that the Osage-orange transplanted easily, tolerated poor soils, extreme heat, and strong winds and had no serious insect or disease problems. It was widely planted in the Midwest as a living fence because, when pruned into a hedge, it provided an impenetrable barrier to livestock. The development of barbed wire curtailed its widespread planting, but many Osage-orange trees can still be found in fence rows.
Uses of the Osage-Orange:
The wood is extremely hard, heavy, durable and shrinks or swells little compared to the wood of other trees. The wood is used for fence posts, treenails, furniture, and archery bows. In fact, many archers consider the wood of the Osage-orange to be the world’s finest wood for bows. Another common name for this tree, bodark, is from the French bios d’arc meaning “bow wood.” This tree also produces a bright yellow dye which can be extracted from the wood.
The fruit of the Osage-orange is a nuisance in the home landscape and has little value. Hedge apples are not an important source of food for wildlife as most birds and animals find the fruit unpalatable. The thorny trees do provide nesting and cover for wildlife.
The belief about the use of hedge apples for insect control is widespread and persistent. it is claimed that placing hedge apples around the foundation or inside the basement will repel or control insects. A few years ago, Iowa State University toxicologists extracted compounds from hedge apples. When concentrated, these compounds were found to repel insects.
Scientists also found that natural concentrations of these compounds in the fruit were too low to be an effective repellent. So, don’t be fooled into spending much to use hedge apples as an insect repellent.
If you decide to pick hedge apples to check out the repellency yourself or to use the fruit as a fall decoration, it would be wise to wear gloves. The milky juice present in the stems and fruit of the Osage-orange can irritate the skin.
Looking for information about a specific insect pest or your local wildlife? Visit here.
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*Seeing this today was like they were showing me, “Hey, look what my job is! I have value, I have worth!” We used to be mean to the wasps until I took the time to learn their job in nature actually is. From what I have personally witnessed, their purpose for existence includes trying to keep our trees healthy. Since trees are basically the lungs of the planet, I think that’s a pretty important job! I have read conflicting information about wasps online. My personal experience is they are helpers and teachers. What came through in the numbers is a pecan tree and a teacher have a pattern in common. What I believe is we all, whatever form, are teachers, students, messages and receivers of those messages. I believe everyone has value in one way or another. It’s not always easy to understand what we are trying to convey to each other. I don’t think we should give up trying!
133 – “don’t give up”
Wasp – 59/84/109/140/158/125/134/150/140/158/125/134/150/140…….
*remember, these are only just a few of the meanings of these numbers that I have found for myself and am sharing with you.
152’s – amber tree resin, positive drama, positive being,
pecan tree – 87/114/128/141/128/141……….
87- person, truth, roots, justice
pecan – 39/98/91/76/117/133/146
98 – killer bees (I found this value trying to figure out why people may have a fear of bees/wasps. Remember those old Killer bee television shows and movies? When I was a very small girl I can remember drinking a can of soda without realizing a bee was in the can and I got stung. I was pretty freaked out! It wasn’t the bee’s fault but a “seed of fear” was planted that I had to actively overcome through time. I did this through trying to understand them instead of thinking they were all bad. The same principle I have used towards other insects and life forms to include people. It’s not easy to do but for me personally, it has been worth trying to do.)