One of the hardest thing about moving to the Northern U.S. after living most of my life in the South was the difference in plants and trees. Many of the thing I had grown up with and were familiar with would not grow up here. Likewise many of the things that grew here I had never seen before. One of those things was the Osage Orange tree. Around in our area also called the "Hedge Apple".
I have been doing some research on the tree and found that the Osage Orange is native to a small area in Eastern Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, and southwestern Arkansas. This region was also the home of the Osage Indian. Hence the name Osage Orange. White settlers moving into the region found that the Osage Orange possessed several admirable qualities. It is a tough and durable tree, transplants easily, and tolerates poor soils, extreme heat and strong winds. It also has no serious insect or disease problems. It seems that during the mid nineteenth century it was planted by mid west farmers as a living fence. Thus my fence lines are full of it! When pruned into a hedge it provided an impenetrable fence for livestock. The widespread planting of Osage orange stopped with the introduction of barbed wire. However I guess like my farm they have now become naturalized and can still be found through out the state.
I have been researching this tree because they have new hybrids out that do not produce fruit or thorns. This seems like a tree that I would like to try to plant at some time. We have cut Osage Orange and used the wood for fence posts which seems to be their most common use here. We have also had a Native American man come and ask to cut some for carving archery bows which I found interesting. I have also heard of collecting the fruit for ornamental purposes. What I found interesting was that some say they repel insects and spiders. Even ants.
This belief about the use of hedge apples for insect control seems widespread and persistent. it is claimed that placing hedge apples around the foundation or inside the basement will repel or control insects. A few years ago, Iowa State University toxicologists extracted compounds from hedge apples. When concentrated, these compounds were found to repel insects. Scientists also found that natural concentrations of these compounds in the fruit were too low to be an effective repellent.
I have lots of these apple available on the farm so I think I may spread some around my foundation and see how that works on ants. Remember my spring ant problem.
Go to this link and read this survey of people that swear by the use of hedge apples.
Wisdom or wives tale? I'll keep ya informed..........
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter