These odd-looking fruits come from the Osage orange tree (Maclura pomifera), which is native to southwest Missouri. Midwestern settlers planted these trees to create living "horse-high, bull-strong and hog-tight" hedges on their farms. Hedge apples ripen and fall in late October and early November.
What most people notice first about this densely branched, short-trunked, thorny tree are the weird, softball-sized, chartreuse, brainlike fruits, which often lie beneath the tree in abundance in autumn.
MDC protects and manages Missouri's fish, forest, and wildlife resources. We also facilitate your participation in resource-management activities, and we provide opportunities for you to use, enjoy and learn about nature. Read more about our mission.