Tis the season of maclura pomifera- also knows as osage oranges, hedge-apples, horse-apples, bois d'arc, bodark and bodack* The brainlike texture of this fruit looks like something that should be decorating a house at Halloween. Although we've always called this grapefruit-sized, inedible fruit an Osage orange, it is more closely related to the mulberry than an orange. The dense, heavy orbs are filled with a sticky sap that, as old-timey lore has it, repels spiders and insects. Scientific studies show there is some evidence for their effectiveness as an insecticide.
Some refer to the trees and fruit as bois d'arc because early French settlers noticed that Native Americans used the strong, flexible wood in bowmaking. In early America, the trees were planted to serve as natural barbed wire fences as the branches are quite thorny. We think this is a photo of the "orange tree" wood in the Greensboro Arboretum; that would explain the spikes. Recently, we found several Osage oranges on a walking tour of Greensboro's Westerwood neighborhood. It takes a brave person to allow these trees to fruit on one's street; because, if they fall off and hit your car, they leave a pretty serious dent. The Osage orange has some interesting history, some of which is linked to US presidents! Why don't you head out for a nature walk and try to find some, and ...... watch out for that THUMP!
* see this reference where we got the general information for this wonder of nature!