Osage Orange |For what it's worth

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Osage Orange

A few weeks ago I spent a beautiful afternoon on the Texas/Oklahoma Red River border with my son and his family.  There are lots of dirt roads rutted and sometimes slippery with sand to explore.  As we navigated our way around and through trees, brush and sand I spotted some horse apples... Osage Oranges on the ground.  My grandmother used to toss them under her pier and beam house to deter roaches, scorpions and spiders so we stopped and gathered some. Besides, I think they are very ornamental looking!   They are a large yellow green ball the size of a large grapefruit with a rough bumpy skin.  They have a pleasant smell very much like an orange.
 I'm not sure why folks around here call them horse apples, since horses don't eat them.  The only animals that sometime eat them are squirrels. I have heard they may be toxic, so I did a search on Wikipedia. Though they may make you throw up, they are not highly toxic.   I will still move them when the grands are here, nobody wants to deliberately make the babies sick!  Wikipedia also confirmed the fruit is effective for deterring insects like mosquitoes, cockroaches, crickets and ticks.  Good to know!
Hubs has extensive knowledge on the Native American Indian culture and had told me the Osage Indians were known to prize the wood for bow making.  President FD Roosevelt launched a program during and after the dust bowl days to prevent soil erosion by planting shelter belts using the trees.  The male trees have thorns, so they also worked to keep cattle from roaming too far away before barbed wire was common.  Hmm, wonder if that's where the idea for barbed wire came from...ranchers and farmers liked to use the rot resistant wood for fence posts.
You can see from these photo's how interesting and decorative they are.

Don't you just love nature?


  1. Those are really cool! Great way to decorate for free. I love nature!

  2. Jeannie, my friend and I gathered some of these one year from under a tree. We saw them lying on the ground and thought they were so cool. I used them for Fall decor. Didn't know that's what they were called. Enjoyed learning about them!


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