Green Balls Growing on Trees

You are here because you have seen those green balls growing on trees and are wondering what they actually are. Those green balls are indeed striking enough to create a deep curiosity in the mind of the beholder. So, what are those green balls growing on trees? Well, the green balls growing on trees are actually fruits. There is a lot of information about these fruits and the tree that you may find interesting. Let’s get to the point.

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Table of Contents

What are the green balls growing on trees?

The green balls you find intriguing are the fruits of the Osage orange tree. These fruits are known by many names, including hedge apples, monkey balls, horse apples, mock orange, monkey brains, Bois d’arc, Louisiana orange, and yellow wood. The botanical name of the Osage orange tree is Maclura pomifera. The green balls are globular fruits that have a rough base. They are quite similar to oranges.

green balls

Are the Osage orange fruits edible?

The Osage orange fruits are, unquestionably, not edible. A majority of foraging animals do not eat them. The tiny seeds present inside the fruit are known to be edible, and so only the deer and squirrels eat these seeds.

What can the Osage orange fruit be used for?

The Osage orange fruit contains 2, 3, 4, 5-tetrahydroxystilbene, a chemical compound that is proven to repel spiders, ants, boxelder bugs, crickets, fleas, and cockroaches. If you wish to find out how to use this fruit as a pest repellent, just cut the fruit into two halves. Place one-half in a dish in the area where you experience pest problems. When the fruit degrades, it oozes a milky sap, in which case the dish will collect the mess! Just one piece of the fruit is known to last for several weeks.

repel cockroaches

Apart from pest control, what are the other uses of the Osage orange fruit?

While the Osage orange fruits taste too bad and are not edible, the numerous seeds inside them can be eaten. Squirrels and birds put in a lot of effort to extract the tiny seeds from the fruit and eat them. A few people use these rough green balls to decorate. The fruits emanate a good aroma and remain fresh as long as they are placed in well-ventilated places. If you wish to use these green balls to decorate your space, note that only the female trees produce these fruits.

Do the green balls growing on trees scare away pests and spiders?

When the green balls fall to the ground and decay, there is an unpleasant odour coming from them that spreads to the nearby area. However, this feature is extremely useful for scaring away pests and spiders from your outdoor spaces. Be sure to take a lot of care while using these fruits for this purpose because the milky substance in the fruit hurts sensitive skin. Place the green balls in a container in places you wish to ward off pests and spiders and leave them there for several days. In a short time, you can see the desired results.

can scare off spiders


I believe now you understand what these green balls growing on trees are. To recap:

  • The green balls are the hard, globular, inedible fruits of the Osage orange tree.
  • The fruits are known to act as a pest repellent and are used for decoration purposes.
  • In general, due to their non-eco-friendly nature, it’s better to discard these green balls if you find them scattered on the ground in your neighbourhood.
Osage orange fruits

People Also Ask

Are the Osage orange trees immune to termites?

Yes, the Osage orange trees are immune to termites. The heartwood of Osage orange is one of the most decay-resistant timbers you can find.

What are some important facts about the Osage orange tree?

  • The Osage orange is usually planted in the outskirts, and the fruits are known to litter the pavements and tree lawns in the autumn.
  • The trees are thorny and provide cover and nesting for wildlife.
  • A lot of homeowners consider the fruit to be a nuisance as they have to rake it up and discard it. Most animals and birds find hedge apples unpalatable, so these are not a significant source of food for wildlife.
  • Even though the fruits don’t taste good, they are used for decoration purposes.
  • It is believed that hedge apples repel insects and other pests.
  • Most farmers, gardeners, and landscapers consider Osage orange a useless, thorny, gangly tree.

Does the Osage orange tree carry any historical significance?

It does. There is an interesting piece of information about the tree dating back to about 12,000 years ago. A long time ago, nearly 10,000 to 13,000 years or so, ground sloths, woolly mammoths, and a few other “now extinct” mammals happened to eat the Osage orange fruits. The seeds remained undigested in the animals’ systems and were expelled. So, wherever these mammals travelled, the seeds spread, and the Osage orange trees came up in all those places.

How did the Osage orange tree get its name?

Somewhere between the 16th and 17th centuries, it is believed that the Osage Indian Nation gave the name “Osage orange” to this tree. The Osage people thought they had discovered the wood and decided to use it for bow making. It is also said that early settlers in the US used Osage orange wood for making mine support posts and wagon wheels as the wood is decay-resistant.

How to identify the Osage orange tree?

The Osage orange trees are deciduous. Their leaves are generally light green in the summer and turn golden in the autumn before falling to the ground. The leaves are glossy, with smooth edges and a pointed tip. When you break a leaf stem, you can see a milky sap oozing out. The bark appears green on young twigs and orangish brown on older trunks.

How are the fruits of the Osage orange tree?

The fruits of Osage orange trees are large, hard, round, bumpy, or wrinkled in texture, lime green or pale green in colour, and 3 to 6 inches in diameter. The smell of the skin of the fruit is similar to the peel of an orange. When you cut open the fruit, you will see white pulp and milky sap, along with numerous small-sized seeds crowded together.

What are the uses of the Osage orange tree?

The Osage orange tree is durable and hence used to make fence posts. As the tree grows fast, is heat and wind tolerant, and can grow in infertile and poor soils, it is largely used as a windbreak as well. The wood can burn hot and really long. It has a high BTU rating in North America. Moreover, the wood is resistant to fungal or insect infestations.

How is the Osage orange tree wood used?

Due to its durability, Osage orange wood has been long used in making bows, boats, waterfowl game calls, and woodwind instruments. Craftsmen and florists use the green balls (yes, the fruits) as centrepieces and decorations in the autumn season.

What to do if I see green balls on the ground?

Most people consider these green balls a problem for the environment. The green balls tend to generate a large amount of litter when they fall to the ground. This damages the ecosystem. So, if you see green balls scattered on the ground in your region, feel free to pick them up right away. By doing so, you are preventing the foul odour from these fruits from spreading. After you collect them, you can either discard them or use them as a pest repellent or a decorative object.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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