Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hedge Apples

Hedge Apples

Do you know what these are? I didn’t until I moved here. One time when my Oma Driedger came to visit she told me I should pick those and make a pie for Steve because what a waste that they were just falling to the ground and no one picked them up! I told her to go ahead and pick some. They stopped by the road side and picked some up – marveling at their weirdness. My Mom still laughs at that in memory of my Oma and the good times we had over the hedge apples talk.

The Osage-Orange tree makes the hedge apples as they are called in our region. They are not edible and sometimes they say cows eat them. Myths about them say if you put them in your basement, they keep away spiders and crickets.

I think they are gnarly and interesting. At break today I queried my co-workers about hedge apples – hoping to get some scoop on them. Someone said they know cattle have died trying to eat them because they got “stuck” and they suffocated on them. Texas calls them “horse apples” but we don’t know why – maybe horses try to eat them too! One person was convinced they keep away insects – another said they tried it and it didn’t work. One said they used them when hunting if they couldn’t find anything to hunt they’d throw them up in the air for targets. They don’t seem to be a very well respected tree anymore here and one person knew of someone selling seeds for $1 a piece in Alaska – given the market he was thinking that would be his retirement plan to go to AK and sell Osage-Orange trees!

The Osage-Orange tree has male / female systems in that not all trees produce the fruit. The wood from an Osage-Orange tree is very hard – orangish in color and good for wood crafts – my Uncle Jake Daum used to make nativity sets out of them and my Uncle Bill Stucky has made hedge vases and small bowls – see pics – they are beautiful!
We see them in Kansas in tree rows – known as hedgrows. In the 30’s they were planted during the dustbowl depression years. I learned too that in 1948, Kansas alone still had about 96,000 miles of Osage-Orange hedgerows. The hedgerows provide superior cover and protection for many birds, small mammals, and insects as they are dense in nature and I believe thorny too.
So there you have it – post a comment if you have any hedge apple info!


lookuptoday said...

Thank you from my heart for your encouraging comments about my blog. Dee

kristin said...

i like thinking of bill as "uncle bill."

he is a wonderfully talented soul.

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