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ST. LOUIS — Along the 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. 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.

Osage oranges are seen in a field near Springfield, Mo.

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.

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 long bows and other war weapons.

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 (Maclura) Isolated on White Background. Hedge Apple close up

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. People assume that the oils from the fruit keep the bugs away.

This is not true. There is no proof that spiders are repelled by the smell of hedge apples.

“Many people will purchase hedge apples for use in decorating or as an insect deterrent. However, hedge apples will not work as a deterrent for insects in your home. The research was based on using concentrated oils from the fruit to deter insects. The concentrated compounds worked to repel insects, but the concentrations within a fruit are too low to be effective in your home.,” said Nicole Stoner Extension Educator – Horticulture

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