Monday, October 3, 2016

hedge apples?

My friend Tamera Partin from Mast General Store sent me this photo of her niece Nora taken near Fort Loudoun State Park in Monroe County. Nora is holding the fruit of an Osage orange tree, a.k.a. hedge apples. They actually look like green brains but do not let the moniker "apples" fool you, absolutely nothing currently living on earth will consume one of these. It is believed by some that dinosaurs may have eaten them but there is not a single Ankylosaurus, a low-to-the-ground herbivore, left alive for me to interview.  

Tamera had heard the odd looking things repel insects and wondered if this was true. 

Osage orange is a topic I know well, I wrote about the curious tree in my first UT Press book. Here's an excerpt:

"The wrinkled fruit has a distinctive citrus smell. It’s filled with a foul-tasting sticky white latex; a sap that looks like Elmer’s Glue. Cut up sections of the fruit were once used as a natural insect repellent. They contain the chemical 2,3,4,5-tetrahydroxystilbene which has been proven to drive away household pests like cockroaches, ants, spiders, fleas, and crickets. A single fruit placed under a sink or other problem area will last for up to two months and force the roaches to relocate."

Excerpt from my book Natural Histories: Stories from the Tennessee Valley published by the University of Tennessee Press.

Coming in 2017
And watch for my new UT Press book Ephemeral by Nature coming in 2017.

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