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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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