En Español

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

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.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

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

 

 

More Trees Questions

Ecosysystem with pecan at center from Austin
February 21, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I would like to create a native tree guild around a mature pecan. It shares its space with native shrubs and ephemerals but I would like to add a nitrogen fixing plant. I am...
view the full question and answer

Red oaks that didn't drop leaves in Austin
April 04, 2012 - I have a number of Red Oaks on land that did not drop leaves this past fall. Now these same trees seem to be dead? It seems there's some type of mold/fungus on the trees. Some trees have small patche...
view the full question and answer

Desert willows in Florida
December 07, 2007 - I'm in Dunnellon, FL and I'm growing several chilopsis linearis from seeds, but they are coming in long, tall with very few leaves. and continuously fall over from their lanky growing ways. Any idea...
view the full question and answer

Scorched leaves on Red Maple from Lufkin TX
April 30, 2012 - I have a Red Maple that we planted in Lufkin, TX about a month ago and fertilized about 2 weeks ago. We water the tree often. The leaves have become scorched looking on the outside of about 1/3 of t...
view the full question and answer

Are mountain laurel beans safe to use as rattles with small children?
September 19, 2012 - Is it safe to use the mountain laurel mescalbean pods as shakers or rattles, as long as the pods are not open and the seeds left unexposed? If a small child (very small, who has no way to open the ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center