Found this in the yard. Probably the neighbor’s. Anyone know what it is and what it’s used for?

Hedge apples, scientifically known as Maclura pomifera, are distinctive fruits native to parts of North America. These remarkable fruits, often referred to as Osage oranges, are roughly the size of softballs and sport bumpy, bright green exteriors.

While not a typical choice for human consumption, hedge apples have garnered attention for their unique properties and a wide range of practical uses. In this article, we will explore hedge apples in detail, from their characteristics to the various purposes they serve.

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The Remarkable Characteristics of Hedge Apples

Size and Appearance: Hedge apples are easily recognizable by their unusual size, with diameters similar to that of a softball. Their bright green, bumpy exteriors give them a distinct appearance, making them stand out in the natural world.

Inedibility: Despite their inviting appearance, hedge apples are not typically consumed by humans due to their bitter taste and tough, fibrous texture. However, they have found utility in other areas.

Where are Hedge Apples found?

They are primarily found in the central United States, where the Maclura pomifera tree is native. Their natural range includes states such as Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. These distinctive fruits are typically found in woodlands, prairies, and along riverbanks within their native regions. While they may also be found in other parts of the United States and even in other countries due to their use in landscaping and windbreaks, hedge apples are most prevalent in their native range in the central United States.

Versatile Uses of Hedge Apples

Natural Pest Repellent:

One of the most well-known uses of hedge apples is their potential as a natural pest repellent. Traditionally, people have placed these fruits in basements, garages, and other areas prone to insect infestations. It is believed that compounds emitted by the hedge apples, including 1,4-dichlorobenzene, have a deterrent effect on spiders, ants, and other pests. However, it’s important to note that scientific evidence supporting this claim is limited, and the effectiveness of hedge apples as a pest repellent may vary.

Decorative Purposes:

Hedge apples find popularity in decorative arrangements, particularly during the fall season. Their unique appearance makes them a captivating addition to centerpieces, wreaths, and other seasonal décor. Crafters and decorators often incorporate them into creative projects to add a touch of nature’s eccentricity.

Folk Medicine and Traditional Remedies:

In some folk medicine practices, various parts of the Maclura pomifera tree, including the leaves, bark, and roots, have been used to treat various ailments. Traditional remedies have attributed properties such as anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects to these parts of the tree. However, it’s essential to emphasize that these remedies lack scientific validation, and the safety and efficacy of such practices remain uncertain.

Crafting and DIY Projects:

 

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Wildlife Attraction:

Hedge apples can also serve as wildlife attractants. Some animals, such as squirrels and deer, may consume the fruit when other food sources are scarce. If you have a passion for wildlife observation, placing hedge apples in your yard can provide opportunities to observe these creatures up close.

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