9.30.2008

My Love Affair with Monkeyballs

There is a strange tree that the kids and I only just discovered in the past few years. We are obsessed and watch on the side of the road all summer until the neon green fruit drops on the side of the road, signifying harvest time. My husband calls them "monkeyballs" and talks of playing with them as a child, but this is all new to me since I didn't grow up in Western Pa.

The kids and I risk life and limb collecting them on the side of a narrow road every year. They play games with them and break them open, I like to collect them in a bowl for display. The green is so fresh and the texture so unusual they make for an interesting centerpiece. I read online they should keep 3 months inside with air conditioning...we'll see...

I guess the educated call them Osage Oranges or Hedge Apples, but they will always be Monkeyballs to me...do you think "balls" refers to the toy or the genitalia? Hmmmmm...I'll let you judge for yourself:


Apparently, there is a whole website devoted to this strange fruit and it's called hedgeapple.com (of course!) Would you like to know some facts about this curiously strange fruit?

Hedgeapple 101

Hedgeapples are not poisonous. However, Hedgeapples have suffocated livestock by lodging in their esophagus.

Very often, a Hedgeapple is incorrectly referred to as a Hedge Ball, Horse Apple, Green Brains, Monkey Balls or Mock Orange. The hedge tree has several names, Osage Orange (most popular) and Bodark (French) and Maclura pomifera (scientific name). Naturalist, Jim Mason has posted a very professional page about Osage Orange.

Not all of the Osage Orange trees will have fruit because hedge trees are either male or female.

Osage Orange is a cousin to the mulberry tree.

It is rumored that these monkeyballs can ward off spiders! Right on!

Burning the wood from a Hedgeapple tree is supposed to release colorful sparkles and sparks!

5 comments :

  1. I followed you over here from Nesting Place to find out what "monkeyballs" were. Any decorating item with a name like that sparks my curiosity! :)

    I have a friend who calls these "those bright green brain ball things".

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  2. I'm with Cyndy, followed you from The Nester's. Love that color! Anything natural can't be beat.

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  3. Oh my goodness-- I LOVE them!


    Wish we had them in our narrow roads-monkey balls, who would have thunk!

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  4. Ah! Hedge apples. Now I know what you're talking about. I think monkeyballs will stick now, though. :)

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  5. They are selling those at Crate and Barrell this year! Way to be on top of things!

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