The maclura pomifera is native to northern Texas and Eastern Oklahoma but spread to the Great Plains for use as a hedge as the trees can be pruned to form dense, thorny hedges. The wood is hard and not prone to rot and makes great fence posts. The fruit has something of an orange smell, I guess, though the trees are not related. (What did we do before Wikipedia? Oh, right – Encyclopedia Britannica, the 10 years out of date edition …)
There are a few in the hedgerow alongside the road and the fruit ripens and drops onto the road where it is run over and squished into a gooey mass. Commonly called hedge apples, monkey balls or brain fruit, no one seems to know much about them – except that they are hard and dense – and something only someone raised with brothers would know – they hurt if you are hit in the head with one.
I did have a Chinese pharmacist tell me once that they are useful as room fresheners – so I have placed them in bowls in the house at times – but mostly because the color is quite clean and wonderful when you find them early. Turns out they also repel spiders – which makes them suddenly more interesting. In this old house, a natural spider repellent might be a good thing in a couple of odd corners.
I have to admit that I have always harbored something of a desire to cut into one – though obviously not enough of one to have actually done it. They are dense and heavy and sort of inviolate, unless, of course, you run over one…but hey, there was one just laying there. I need a guitar.
First I can tell you that they have something of a consistency of a green pineapple, which, as I think of it, sort of makes sense. They have the same kind of heft, really. But the next thing I learned is that the juice is very, very sticky, milky, a little viscous. It dries shiny and quickly and is tough to get back up, though a little scrubbing makes it go away. It’s sort of like varnish. Oh. The things we learn when we set out to play…