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  • Osage orange. Do not eat since it is poisonous it but if you bring one into your house, spiders will leave. It is a fall item and smells decent.

    • Spiders are good, always good to have a few of them around, they kill other more troublesome creepy crawlies

  • Monkey brains: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maclura_pomifera
    I’ve been told they are a good deterrent for spiders in basements… there’s a bunch of the trees in Georgetown at a park just to the west of Wisconsin.

  • They’re actually not poisonous, but just taste awful.

  • Thank you! I saw one of these today and thought it was a children’s or dog toy fake brain until I got closer.

  • Brain Fruit

  • They are referred to as Monkey Balls where i come from (Ohio). Haven’t thought about them once since long fall walks home from elementary school. Learned a little bit from this thread.

  • Yup back in the country we called them a “Mock Orange” . There used to be a big tree right on the road beside Riverside Plantation and they would fall and people would run over them driving by and the road was always covered with mush in October lol : )

    Ohhhhhh the memories of childhood

  • A lovely story by Arturo Vivante appeared in The New Yorker back in Oct. 1977 with the title, “Osage Orange.”

  • You can buy them for a couple bucks at the Bloomingdale Farmer’s Market. Ridiculous.

    • In NYC, they sell them for $5 a pop at the Union Square farmers’ market. They’re said to be natural cockroach preventatives. I’ve seen people collecting them in Georgetown, too.

  • In Kansas we called these hedge apples. I always had to pick them up before my dad could mow the lawn. They’re pretty stinky and have a sticky white juice inside. A blast from the past indeed!

    • In Minnesota we called them hedge apples as well. If you throw one or two in your potted porch plants, they also keep the squirrels and other rodents from digging around. My parents still put them around the perimeter of their house every few feet and claim they ward off all manner of pests. Seems to work for my potted mums!

  • Nick, we called them “monkey balls” in Baltimore too. There was one at our school, guaranteeing the occasional monkey ball fight during recess.

  • Aw man, too many knowledgeable people on this blog ;).

    It’s Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera). A tree native to the Southeast. Often planted as hedgerows, but gets to huge tree size, too. The insect repellant properties of the fruit are debatable, but they do smell good.

  • There was a tree near my elementary school and we called these things monkey brains, too. In the fall after school there would sometimes be epic battles using these things as the nasty botanic equivalent of a snowball. I vividly remember getting a talking to from an old woman who wanted to collect the fruit and use it to ward off moths in her attic. More interestingly, the Wikipedia article linked above discusses the history of these odd plants: “One recent hypothesis is that the Osage orange fruit was eaten by a giant ground sloth that became extinct shortly after the first human settlement of North America. Other extinct Pleistocene megafauna, such as the mammoth, mastodon and gomphothere, may have fed on the fruit and aided in seed dispersal. An equine species that went extinct at the same time also has been suggested as the plant’s original dispersal agent because modern horses and other livestock will sometimes eat the fruit. While Osage orange may have once spanned the breadth of eastern North America, by historical times, the tree’s range in pre-Columbian times was limited to the Red River basin both due to the loss of seed-dispersing animals and exploitation by Native American tribes for bow-making. The wood was highly prized for this purpose, and natives were known to travel hundreds of miles to acquire it.”

  • There are loads of them in Montrose Park in Georgetown.

  • There are plenty falling from a tree at Spring Rd & Rock Creek Church Rd NW. Make a huge gross mess in the road as cars run them over. Now that I know they are a money-maker maybe I’ll set up a stand on the corner and sell them to my fellow gentrifiers.

  • Golf sized??? The one at the corner of 17th & Monroe is pineapple sized… It’s a matter of time before it sends someone off to an ER – they keep falling on pedestrians’ heads…

  • MONKEY BRAINS!!!!! Montrose Park & Maret School have them in spades. Used to bowl them down the road heading down to Rock Creek Park from Montrose.

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