Friday, December 09, 2011
I spotted this Osage Orange Tree up west of Laurel today. It is called by a wide range of names; monkey balls, horse apples, mock orange, hedge apples etc. It is not a native plant for this area. I think Texas and Oklahoma is it's native area but it has been planted a number of places on older farms to be used as a hedge row - big thorns on it - or for a decoration. This one just had small fruit on it - about 2 to 3 inches. Usually it has fruit the size of grapefruit or larger and the fruit is quite heavy. As far as I know it is not eatable. It is used sometimes for Christmas decorations.
The main use of the fruit is for a natural insect repellent, but homesteaders also use the fruit to dye clothing and wool. The fruit is known to repel all types of insects including spiders, ants, and crickets. You can place them in your crawl space, in your basement; anywhere you have a bug or insect issue. If placed indoors, place them on a saucer or paper plate as they have a milky sap that can seep out over time. They can also be used for decoration. Place them in a basket for a nice green center piece. Cut them in half and hollow them out to be used as a candle holder.