Friday, October 7, 2011

Folklife Friday: Hedge Apples

Hedge apples have always seemed a bit mysterious to me, like they didn't really belong here. Their bumpy skin reminds me of maps of the surface of distant planets or bad pictures of human brains.

Other names for hedge apples are Osage orange, horse apple, or bodark (from the French meaning bow wood). The fruit is not poisonous, but the sticky, sappy pulp is not desired by men or animals. Just handling the fruit left a sticky residue on my hands.

After asking around, the only use I found for hedge apples was putting them in basements and around the foundation of houses to deter insects. Some say no spiders could be found in their house as long as the hedge apples were good. They stay good for two or three months before they decay.

The wood of the hedge apple tree produces a hot fire, but no one wants to cut the sticky wood because it gums up the saw. I read that the hedge apples will burn when dried, producing lots of sparks. I plan to try this after they start to decay.

Hedge apples have a slight citrus scent, and I think their uniqueness makes them pretty. These will sit on my dining room table until they are ready for the fireplace.

These will be scattered around in the basement to test their ability to deter insects. I hope they work on those vile jumping-jack crickets.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein