Hedge apples: What are they used for?

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Along rivers, the Osage orange — also known as hedge apple, bois d’arc, bodark, bodock, or bow-wood — flourishes. The trees are known for their thorns and large green fruit, which have a lot of uses, though not all of them actually work.

Hedge apple trees are not native to the Ozarks, according to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Before barbwire was invented, pioneers would move trees to the area and use them as a living fence.

The yellow-green fruit known as “hedge apples” is produced by the Osage orange tree. When the female trees’ fruit is ready, it is 3 to 5 inches across and falls to the ground in September and October.

Other members of the Osage orange family include the mulberry and the fig. Many bird species, squirrels, and deer enjoy it.

Osage Orange tree tunnel in late autumn at Sugarcreek Metropark, Bellbrook, Dayton, Ohio. (Getty)

Due to its strength, the wood was used to build wagon wheel rims, mine support timbers, and other items.

Native Americans prized the tree for its use in making longbows and other war weapons, officials with the Ozark National Scenic Riverways explain.

The Osage were the primary population in the Mississippi Basin who used the wood to make bows. The tribe was famous for making and using the Osage Longbow, which was often traded with other tribes.

Osage oranges, otherwise known as hedge apples (Getty)

Although it is now popular to use hedge apples to repel insects and mice, this old wives’ tale appears to be folklore. There is no scientific evidence that hedge apples are efficient insect repellents.

Hedge apples will not keep insects away from your home. The study was mostly about how to keep bugs away by using concentrated oils from the fruit, according to Iowa State University.

The concentrated chemicals were successful at repelling insects, but the amounts within a fruit are too low to be effective at home.

Hedge apples are not poisonous to humans or dogs, but they do have an unpleasant flavor. Animals are often uninterested in eating the fruits.



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