Imagine tennis balls – the bright neon-green kind – but a little larger and all wrinkly. Two of these showed up on my porch the other day (mysteriously) and I brought them in and put them in my fruit bowl.
They have an unusual odor – not “pretty” – but not unpleasant either, sort of a clean chemical aroma, if that makes sense. I did a little googling and discovered they are called osage oranges (Maclura pomifera) and they grow on trees whose northern most range is the southern most part of my county, just barely.
It is reported indigenous people made war clubs from its very hard wood and that Europeans found it useful as a living livestock hedge, and later, after barbed wire became popular, the rot-resistant wood made good fence posts. The seeds are edible, if you can get to them through the pulp and slimy husk, a task readily engaged in by squirrels. There are unsubstantiated claims that the fruits repel bugs and spiders in your home.
I don’t know who put these on my porch, but if you are reading this, I am very interested in seeing the tree from which they came! Contact me?
Read accounts about Osage Orange at:
- USDA Plant Database
- Great Plains Nature Center, Witchita KS
- Cambridge University Botanic Garden