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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - August 17, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Unusual green fruit
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Unknown "fruit" in my backyard I have large (softball size) nobbly green orbs finding their way into my backyard. They sort of look like a tennis ball left out in the rain to rot, but they are organic. Someone mentioned they could be crab apples, but I have not been able to match them with any web images. Are they crab apples or some other "fruit"?

ANSWER:

Although it is impossible to do a positive ID without seeing the fruit or a picture of it, the first thing that comes to mind is Osage orange, also known as Horse apple.  If the fruit looks like a tennis ball and your kids think it looks like a "brain fruit" it could be Maclura pomifera.  It was a plant that was widely used in the Northeast US and Canada as a hedgerow plant by farmers to keep livestock contained (because of its thorny branches) and does occur in Texas.

Check out the link to our database and see if you see a resemblance.

 Maclura pomifera (osage orange)


Maclura pomifera

 

 

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