Way off topic - Hedge apples are ripe

Pelarg@aol.com Pelarg@aol.com
Thu, 16 Oct 2008 09:16:48 PDT
I do a lab with my high school bio students where they count the seeds in  
osage oranges and estimate seed production of trees.  It is an  interesting 
tree, one of a few native species (which would include honey  locust and Kentucky 
Coffee tree) that apparently were dispersed by species of  "megafauna" such as 
ground sloths or prehistoric horses (not the introduced ones  we now have) 
and had thorns for probable defense against large herbivores.   The students 
find the fruits fascinating, but they are difficult to work with,  gloves are 
best as the latex is hard to remove and itchy to some.  It  also destroyed our 
dissection scalpels, they latex won't wash off with soap and  water, one needs 
nasty stuff like acetone to get it off the blades, but then the  plastic 
handles are weakened.  So this year I am going to use a large knife  to quarter the 
fruits, and plastic disposable knives for the students to pick  out the seeds. 
I just gathered fruits 2 days ago from under a tree alongside the Bronx  
River Parkway in White Plains for the lab tomorrow, but I know of another couple  
of trees near the Bronx River Pkwy entrance from Allerton Ave in the Bronx 
that  also produce fruit.  
I've always thought it odd that the osage orange looks and smells  like 
citrus, and has leaves that resemble many citrus trees, with  spiny branches, but 
is in the mulberry family.  Coincidence  perhaps?
Ernie DeMarie z6/7 
Tuckahoe NY  Where Gloxinia nematanthoides "Evita" is blooming up a  storm 
along the wall at my school garden, where its rhizomes overwintered  against the 
building wall. More people should grow it, it is stunning in the  ground or 
in a pot. 
In a message dated 10/16/2008 11:01:00 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
jwaddick@kc.rr.com writes:

Dear  Friends,
Gardeners on both coasts may not be aware of our  mid-western 
'Hedge Apples' (Maclura pomifera).

Today's local paper, the Kansas City Star, had a lovely 
picture of a lawn  littered with green bowling ball size fruit. This 
tree is native to a  fairly small area in the center of the US, but 
uncommon more widely. Also  known as Osage Orange and Bois D'arc. This 
is a large tree, normally  pretty anonymous to most people. This time 
of year the large chartreuse  green soft-ball size fruits are highly 
visible on the trees (to 50 ft and  more tall) and the fallen fruits 
litter the ground.
They  are very attractive;  see:


but essentially useless.  These fruit litter sidewalks and  
road sides. They are very dense, solid and difficult to cut. They 
ooze  a sticky latex like sap and can literally cause damage to 
vehicles parked  under them.

The wood is strong, dense and very useful  particularly for 
fence posts and at one time bows (thus the Bois d'arc  name) . The 
trees are densely branched and bear many evil sharp thorns,  but are 
impervious to most insects and disease. Thus modern cultivars have  
been developed as street trees from thornless, fruitless  strains.

The fruits are abundant now and very beautiful  from afar. You 
just don't want to get too close or handle them  much.

More info at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osage-orange/

Just FYI.        Best Jim W.

(We have a first un -  forecast light frost last night. Enough 
procrastinating !)
Dr.  James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri  64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
Zone 5 Record low  -23F
Summer 100F  +

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