Thursday, September 29, 2011

Harvesting Horse Apples Today With Elsie Hotpepper At The Village Creek Osage Orange Tree Orchards

Getting Ready To Take A Bite Of A Horse Apple
A couple days ago I mentioned that the big green ball you see in the picture has perplexed me ever since I moved to Texas. I long ago had been told it was a "Horse Apple" but that was all I knew about it.

So, I asked if anyone could kindly alleviate me of my "Horse Apple" ignorance.

Alien Engineer and CatsPaw kindly did some ignorance alleviating by informing me that the Horse Apple comes from the Osage Orange tree, also known as Bois D'Arc. And that the wood of the tree was used by Plains Indians to make bows. And that cockroaches hate Horse Apples.

So, due to now knowing more details I was able to look up Osage Orange tree to have even more of my ignorance about this subject alleviated.

The fruit of the Osage Orange tree is filled with sticky white latex goo which smells slightly like oranges. Hence the name. However, the tree is not at all closely related to citrus trees. The fruit smells sort of edible, but, even though it is not poisonous in the kill you type of poisonous, eating it will most likely cause you to vomit.

Most trees bear fruit which is eaten, with the seeds being dispersed by whatever ate the fruit, thus expanding the orchard of any particular tree. However, no known animal is known to eat Horse Apples.

Gray Area Shows Historical Location Of Osage Orange
It is theorized that the Osage Orange tree may be a relic from the days of dinosaurs, with dinosaurs like giant ground sloths, mammoths and mastodons

A lot of dinosaurs roamed over Texas when those big reptiles ruled the earth. The dark gray area of the map shows the historic location of the Osage Orange tree in the Red River drainage zone of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

In modern day America, and parts of Canada, the Osage Orange has widely naturalized.

In the American prairie states Osage Orange trees were often used as windbreaks, hence one of the other names the tree is known by, "Hedge Apple."

This is thanks in part to one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Great Depression New Deal fight the Dust Bowl plans. The WPA (Works Progress Administration) project called the "Great Plains Shelterbelt", starting in 1934, by 1943 had planted 30,233 Shelterbelts with over 220 million trees.

The wood of the Osage Orange tree is very dense, heavy, close-grained, and appropriate to its name, colored yellow-orangish. The wood is highly valued for uses valuing strength that resists rotting. Like the aforementioned bows. Other uses are fence posts, tool handles and insulators.

Used as fuel, the Osage Orange wood has the highest BTU content of any wood, making it burn very hot for a very long time.

And just like CatsPaw so kindly informed me, Horse Apples are sometimes used to shoo away cockroaches. Other arthropods also have an apparent aversion to Horse Apples.

Today Elsie Hotpepper went walking with me on a Horse Apple hunting expedition through the Village Creek Natural Historical Area's Osage Orange tree orchards. I got myself a half dozen Horse Apples, like the beauty I took a picture of which you see above.

The Horse Apples are now strategically placed in my kitchen to make life a living hell for any cockroaches plotting a home invasion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Greetings, I fell across your blog here after remembering about Horse Apples since I was a child. I grew up in the Lake Texoma area on the Oklahoma side and just wanted to give a friendly tip. The only known animals I ever saw, quite frequently, while growing up were the cows in the pasture next to my grandmother's house that ate Horse Apples. My cousins and I would even toss the ones that fell on the other side of the fence over into the pasture for them to eat whenever they felt like it.