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#132025 - 08/25/04 05:49 AM Horse Apples
amemeba Offline

Registered: 05/02/04
Posts: 89
Horse apples indeed! This thread is a request for help in identifying a type of apple that I found growing by a chert road while hiking. The Subject "Horse Apples" is to appease the pedancies of this group who don't approve of questions of flora on this forum of fauna. That done, here is my story...

While on a mid-July hike in Blount County I saw a copperhead sunning in the middle of the road and beyond him a slight green tree laden with green fruit. Ever cautious I tiptoed pass the snake and it slithered back into the brush and walked over to examine the tree. The fruit of the tree was the size and shape of a real, real, fat lemon. The skin covering the fruit was coarse to the touch and pale green. I surmised that it was a domesticated apple tree because the limbs drooped close to the ground under the weight of the heavy yield. I stufffed a few of the quasi-apples into my pack and continued on.

At a house down the road, I begged a drink of water from a quaint old farmer who was sitting on the front poarch with his granddaughter. I showed him the pseudo appllets and he said that he didn't know the name of them but they weren't apples and they weren't fit for human consumption. Even horses and pigs wouldn't eat them, he said. Then he escorted me into the house to serve me a cool glass of spring water that he said had never been tested, but had never killed. Afterwards , when we returned to the porch, his granddaughter was sitting on a table eating one of the false apples, and so far she wasn't dead. The girl was one of those sassy precocious older women of seven or nine or ten years of age that you sometimes meet in the back country.

Granddaddy sighed but said nothing to the brassy little girl, and so, after a polite while, I said good-bye and left. At home that night I summoned up courage and ate one of the apples myself. The apple tasted pretty bad; bland and pasty and juiceless, the texture was of a not-yet-ripe, not-yet-flavorful, pear. I only took two bites.
But then I understood why the ubiquitous maraiding wild deer hadn't stripped the lower branches of the faux apple tree bare.

But somehow the distasteful fruit further aroused my curiosity so I googled "apple" internet sources for help... without luck.

So if, Of Troy, Wordwind, wwh, or any other country folks here in Awadland, happen to know anything about a similar fruit, I would be thankful for a reply.

PS: wwh, I will e-mail the visuals of the nightbirds (as well as of this fruit) like I promised, but I haven't yet got the damn digital camera to work.

#132026 - 08/25/04 07:32 AM Re: Horse Apples
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/24/02
Posts: 7210
Loc: Vermont
possibly an Osage Orange?


formerly known as etaoin...

#132027 - 08/25/04 07:37 AM Re: Horse Apples
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Excellent guess, et'! And the photograph is a pretty good one of the osage orange fruit that has that distinctive very rough texture.

Ameme: Do you recall anything about the leaves?

#132028 - 08/25/04 09:41 AM Re: Horse Apples
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
apples, (now thought to be 'native' to kazakistan) are found through out the temperate world.

they are stange things, with HUGE genitic diversity. you can't plant an apple seed and expect to get a tree that look like the one the apple came from.

apple trees can grow as tall and sturdy as oaks or they can be shrub-like (there are even varities that are 'ground crawlwers!)

in times past, as caravan's passed throught the forests of kazakistan, they picked up the best apples, (to eat for them selves,) and to trade.. and so apples spread..

here in US johnny appleseed would buy bushel baskets of apple seeds (from east coast established cider mills) and plant them in remote areas.. 10 15 years later when these areas were getting settled, he'd sell the best of trees for profit, (and move further west)

many 'land grant' and settlement agreements required settlers to plant 4 to 10 fruit trees.. and jonny appleseeds trees, grown from seed had survived 10 years or more of winters, summers, floods/droughts--with no attention from him (he planted seeds explored, and planted more seeds..

many trees produced crappy apples, but enough produced apples good enought to eat. (but even apples that didn't taste very good were often useful as animal fodder (pumace) or for making cider (hard cider)

in what remains in the forstest of kazakistan, apples are small (grape sized) to giant (grapefruit!) they come with red, yellow, green, purple skins, that are smooth and textured, thin and thick. the trees are tall, the trees are ground hugging..

Apples genitic diversity, means different areas (europe/US/asia/austrailia) all have apples as a common fruit, and everywhere there are different varities! each area has found trees/fruit that suit its particular climate/tastes.

for more information read Michael Pollen's 'botany of desire' (chapter 1, on apples (or a good part of chapter one) used to be available on line.. a search might yeild it)

as for the fruit being a osage orange, NYC is the northern limit for such trees, (a amall orchard can be found, just inside central park at 96th street and CPW--there are about 10 trees growing together there) the fruit definatly looks more like an orange (a greenish orange) with pebbly, thick leather skin. sometimes apples have 'russeted' skin, and there skin is thick (ish) and textured--but it would be more like pototo (russet potoato) skin than like orange (or osage orange skin.)--not having seen the fruit you found, its hard to tell.. it might well have been an osage orange (search the American Museum of natural history site--they had a small article on osage oranges, about 3-4 years ago. Osage oranges are a native american fruit tree. the range is north of florida (they want one season with definate cool nights and days) but south of NY (they can take some freezing, but not too much..) in NY they tend to grow in protected areas --the group in Central park is protected by the wall (big stones) that sheild them from the worst of the north winds in the winter)

my other obsession

#132029 - 08/26/04 06:58 PM Re: Horse Apples
amemeba Offline

Registered: 05/02/04
Posts: 89
Sorry folks I unintentionally misled. The advice that I had received from the Internet stated unequivocally that if any fruit sliced mid-sphere and displayed a five-point arrangement of the seed compartments was an apple. What they should have said was that the star shaped pattern is unique to pomes.

Yesterday I returned to the apple tree to get a sample of the leaves to describe to Wordwind today. Pictures of the osage orange that I looked up on the Internet didn't much look like the fruit in question so I hoped that the leaves would further identify the tree.

Then I had a brilliant idea...why not take the samples to the Botanicial Gardens and ask a horticulturists to name the tree. So I did.

Carrying a clear plastic bag filled the fruit, twigs, and leaves of the tree I walked down the second floor hallway of the Botanical Gardens where the state horticulturists hang out. Seemingly without looking at my plastic bag a woman with a smile and a sparkle of humor in her eyes stopped me in the hallway and said, " Hey! Watcha doing walking around with those Asian Pears in that bag?"

It turned out that she was the one that the horticulturists went to when they had questions. She told me that the pear was quite good to eat and should ripen soon on the tree and then become soft and suculent and the outer skin would become shiny and smooth and recommended that I pick a couple of bushels which should be enough to make a a very good and fruity wine.

And I will. And oh yeah, besides all the good stuff that I learned from Of Troy about apples, ( Thanks, Of Troy ) I also learned that all apples are pomes, but pomes can be other fruits other than apples. Like pears, for example.

#132030 - 08/26/04 07:19 PM Re: Horse Apples
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/24/02
Posts: 7210
Loc: Vermont
glad ya figgered it out, bosc!

formerly known as etaoin...

#132031 - 09/23/04 12:12 PM Re: Horse Apples
consuelo Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/11/01
Posts: 2636
Loc: Caribbean

#132032 - 09/24/04 08:46 PM Re: Horse Apples
themilum Offline

Registered: 05/25/02
Posts: 1529
Loc: Aladamnbama the most watered s...
Nice try Consue, but "themilum" (don’t ask , it's a long story) knows very well that pome is a yankeee’s aglutteration of the proper southern word “po-em”.

No matter, you inspired my Parker fountain pen to ink poetically...

A Pome

An aunt and her niece were bus touring France
In Quince the niece danced, but sans underpants.
In Nice she was nice...
She was nice in Nice?
Never mind...
Nice will suffice when bus touring in France.

Thank you Consuelo for the information on the quince.


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