Wrong title yesterday!

So yesterday’s post was “Windy, eh”. However, it is even windier today! So I should have saved the title for today. LOL. We did get a half inch overnight. Certainly nothing to complain about here. Our maximum wind speed was 30 mph.

A beautiful Bur Oak leaf got stuck on the Garden Spider egg case webbing!

Since it was only a half inch of rain last night, the ground cracks have not swelled shut. Neither of our ponds got any water in them. Apparently it was all suck up by plants and the soil!

There were many more leaves on the ground this morning. And the green ones make for a colorful sight.

The horse apples were plentiful too! The horse apple is a fruit of the Bois D’arc (Maclura pomifera). The tree goes by many names. Examples are Horse-apple, Osage-orange, Naranjo Chino (Spanish name), Bow-wood, and Hedge-apple. The Osage people lived in the area where the tree is found thus one of the common names. The tree is native to Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The tree also was a source for making the finest bows.

Colors of the horse apple are so nice!

According to first hand knowledge from Kathy S., her horse loved them too. In fact, she told me her horse, Magic use to wait for them to fall from the tree.

Squirrels do like to eat them too!

An awfully pretty green!

Sometimes the horse apples have these black hairs.

I think a feast was had here at the base of the tree!

The wood is extremely hard! It can quickly dull a chainsaw. Thus it was used for fence posts, furniture, and woodturnings. A friend once did a woodturning using the wood. The wood literally had an orange glow. So beautiful!

Many creatures utilize the tree. The Hagen’s Sphinx (Ceratomia hageni) to name one. I have not seen one this season. However many species of insects feed on the leaves and sap. It is not uncommon for me to see Hackberry Emperors feeding on the sap that oozes out.

Keep looking!

The more you know, the more you see and the more you see, the more you know.

9 Comments

  1. I had a horse that loved the horse apples. Hence the name i reckon. Sliced and dried they make cool ornaments too. I do know about bois d arc dulling saws. Really quickly. Ive often wondered how old timers like my grandfather kept a saw sharp enough to cut them. There are still some in the ground at the farm. Been there way over 100 years. Still hard as a rock.

    1. Good to know lots of horses like them! I might have to try the slice and dry ornaments! I guess the hardness and long life would be a reason to cut them. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I think the black hairs on the fruit are the remnants of the pollen tubes that connect to each chamber (locule) of the pistil. Similar to corn silk where each strand of silk is the pollen tube for a kernel. Bois d’arc is in the Mulberry Family so those giant fruits are essentially oversized mulberries.

    1. Suzanne, That is most interesting! And now I know. Probably can apply that to other berries as well. I will look at a mulberry close sometime. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  3. During my Armchair Botany meeting last week, the topic of Horse Apples came up and I was looking at my iNaturalist Observations of them. Of course, I had Observations from the Grasslands. Then I noticed that any Observations in Wise County were tagged with a ! (non-native) flag. The explanation was “Introduced in TPWD Wildlife District 3, TX, US: arrived in the region via anthropogenic means”. I found this a little hard to believe that all the Horse Apples in Wise County were introduced.

    1. Alan, In my research online, I found that it is likely that it was brought to Wise County. I found this “The Osage-orange is native to a small area in eastern Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, and southwestern Arkansas…. Settlers found that the Osage-orange transplanted easily, tolerated poor soils, extreme heat, and strong winds and had no serious insect or disease problems. It was widely planted in the Midwest as a living fence because, when pruned into a hedge, it provided an impenetrable barrier to livestock. The development of barbed wire curtailed its widespread planting, but many Osage-orange trees can still be found in fence rows.” Source: https://lancaster.unl.edu/enviro/pest/nebline/hedgeapple.htm.
      I also found somewhere that is easy to propagate with cutting or seeds. So I guess even tho native to Texas, not to our area specifically.

  4. That is really interesting. Well they got spread all across the state and must have been a long time ago with as many big trees around. When I was a docent at the Museum of Natural History in Dallas I was taught that slabs of this tree were pavement for parts of old downtown Dallas because the wood holds up to rot so long. And your piles bring me back to the days at Elm Fork Nature preserve in Carrollton where I saw my first remnants of squirrel eaten horse apples. I know the trees have been in the Hill Country quite a long time because there were mature trees in the pasture where I kept my horse back in the ’70’s.

  5. Oh and I was going to agree with what Suzanne said about the hairs on the fruit. And makes sense because mulberries also have hairs between the “bloops” of fruit. I didn’t realize they were in the same family. I’ve been learning a lot about the rubra and alba mulberries lately. Have a good link: https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/FNR/FNR_237.pdf
    I deduced that the tree I planted in my cabin yard is a hybrid of the two. Much of the ID is about the leaf being shiny or not and the size and shape of the fruit. So mine has the shiny leaf of the nonnative and the fruit are more sizeable, getting that from the native rubra.

    1. Kathy, Thanks for your historical perspective. Interesting things the Bois D’arc was used for. That is a great article/link! Really very detailed.Thank you!

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