Hedge apples are an anomaly that people in Iowa have grown accustomed to, but few others know much about this strange looking fruit. Yellow-green in color, this grapefruit sized fruit can be found in abundance at supermarkets and farmer’s markets, but are they really good for anything?
The Hedge Apple Tree and the Fruit
The tree which bears the hedge apple typically grows to be about 30 to 40 feet tall, but have been known to reach 60 feet in some areas. The trunk is short however, with an irregular crown and shiny dark green foliage. The twigs are adorned with long spines while the stems will seep a milky sap if you cut them.
For centuries, the tree has been used as a natural fence as the short trunk and spiny leaves act as a perfect deterrent for animals and people. This practice gradually faded with the introduction of barbed wire, but home owners who want a more natural look for their property will still turn to the hedge apple tree for protection.
Modern Uses for the Hedge Apple Tree
The wood from the hedge apple tree is bright orange when first cut, but will turn a deep brown after exposure to the air. It is extremely hard, and durable making it perfect for a number of applications. Since it hardly shrinks or swells it is ideal for fence posts, insulator pins, treenails, furniture and even recurve bows used in archery. In fact, there are archers who believe that the wood from a hedge apple tree is responsible for the production of some of the world’s finest recurve bows. It’s durability prevents splitting, while providing the perfect amount of flexibility, making the guys at FastFlightArchery.com pretty happy.
The fruit is considered to unpalatable, even for most wildlife species, but can be used as a natural pest deterrent in homes. Having a hedge of this type of horticulture around the base of your home is known to provide relief from roaches, crickets, spiders and other household pests. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that supports this, but decades of families relying on this method for a pest free home should provide all of the proof that you need.
Horticulture involves the study and understanding of all plant life, and knowing how it is used in our modern society. The hedge apple tree may not be the most sought after tree for landscaping but it certainly has valuable properties that make it worth having around.