Monday, September 22, 2008

heirloom oranges?

This is a picture of fallen fruit from an Osage orange tree at the Stagville State Historic site just north of Durham. This tree is native to some areas of Texas and Oklahoma. It became a popular planting throughout the southeastern United States in the 19th century.
When kept short and bushy, Osage oranges are covered with thorns. In rows, they made an excellent fence for keeping livestock in (or out) of particular fields.
These tennis ball colored "hedge apples" are the product of mature trees that are still alive at this former plantation. Wood from Osage orange trees was also prized as a rot-resistant choice for building fence posts in later decades after the invention of barbed wire erased the need to grow spiky barriers of severely pruned Osage oranges.
I think the fruit is only enjoyed by squirrels, but I haven't scoured the web for other uses. I have heard that their mashed up insides offer up a natural insect repellent.

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