They are currently black on the outside and have a vinous fermented smell and are about half the size and weight that they were when they fell from the trees last fall. They appear to be falling to mush fairly easily when the critters eat them, but they hold together when I pick them up. If I put some in ziplocks and mailed them, I don't think they'd mold horribly in transit, but they likely would fall apart from the knocks they would get at the post office. They aren't at all attractive, but they ought to be chock full of stratified seed ready to go.
How many do you want? If you just want a pound or two (3-4 horse apples) I'll be happy to send them along in the spirit of permie solidarity. If you want pounds and pounds, I'd need postage. Either way, PM me with a mailing address and/or to talk logistics.
Dan Boone wrote: If I put some in ziplocks and mailed them, I don't think they'd mold horribly in transit, but they likely would fall apart from the knocks they would get at the post office.
Someone I met on this site sent me stratifying seeds very nicely in a way that they can't get smashed by the post office. She put them in a ziplock with some damp perlite and then put that in a small mailing carton, on of the smallest sizes at the Post Office. They came in perfect condition.
Me, I'd love to get some gingko seeds over here too but what with stratification and my next trip being in August, I don't think it's possible.
Here's a photo from this morning's horse apple collecting:
Could I request some seed?
Sure! Send me a PM with an address.
How many are there generally in each fruit?
All I can say is "lots". There's a thread here with information on how to separate seeds from horse apples; I haven't done it myself. One person in that thread opines that there are hundreds of seeds in one horse apple. I've broken them open and examined them fairly closely, and it's not entirely clear to me which structures are the seeds. Some people plant them by soaking the horse apples, mashing them into a slurry, and planting the slurry.
Fair warning: I'm not sure how fast I'll be with this and any other requests for horse apples. It turns out to be fairly expensive to parcel post even a small light box these days; so before I do any more, I want to get to the post office and get some of the smallest flat-rate Priority Mail boxes, which are cheaper. They are too small to fit a large horse apple into; but I want to get one and then test (a) whether I can fit my smallest horse apples in there or (b) whether it's possible to whack a big horse apple cleanly in half with an axe so that the hemispheres fit into the small flat-rate box. I'm happy to do this for folks but money is always tight, so I'm interested in determining the most frugal method.
So, I decided to take a fallen horse apple and dissect it. "Everybody says" it's hard to get the seeds out, but I decided to see just how hard it was.
First I cut one in half. (Picture below.) Lots of seeds visible, though obviously I just destroyed the visible ones by cutting through them.
Next I tore away the flesh with the cut seeds in it, to discard them. That was like tearing tough, sticky, fibrous fruit leather -- possible but not real easy. Took some finger strength. Like tearing a dried apple, or a little harder.
Then I started shredding one of the hemispheres with my fingertips. Not easy, but by no means impossible. As I squeezed and twisted and shredded, seeds started falling out and rattling on my paper plate. In the end I got about 75 seeds out of one half of a not-very-big fruit.
Now, I'm not going to do this finger-labor to harvest 1,000 seeds for somebody's ambitious natural hedge project. If you want osage orange seeds in bulk, figure 150-200 seeds per fruit, tell me how many fruit you need, and I'll we'll arrange a postage transaction to cover my costs. But harvesting the seeds this way lets me put a dozen seeds in an envelope and mail them out profligately to people who are just curious, without having to collect any mailing money. In my book, that makes it worth doing a few.
Of course this is a no-guarantee situation. I don't know the first thing about the life cycle of these seeds, their germination percentage, their stratification needs, their moisture preferences, nothing. But I get the impression from looking around my land that these trees grow easily from seed. So with any luck, it will work for people.
PMs going out now to the people who have asked for seed, to see if a dozen in a 1st-class envelope will meet your needs. Thanks to all for their patience!
Dan Boone wrote:Currently I am picking these up in five gallon buckets to use as biomass deep in a new raised garden bed that I just built and am filling with borrowed organics and soil from around the property.
Are you planning on growing anything other than Osage Orange in your raised beds? Sounds like you just described perfect hedge planting - sticking loads of seeds in a nice cultivated bed.
I'm putting these down deep with the hugelwood. This bed has 26 inch sides and I dug them out 18-24" below grade. Am slowly refilling them with the clay I dug out amended with every bit of organic material I can find, from old rotting stumps to leaves to prunings to dog poop to the contents of rodent burrows that I found under my pile of sheet tin. Soil borrowed from around the property goes on top when I get that far.
My hope and belief is that the seeds from the horse apples will be too deep to germinate and reach the surface. If I'm wrong, I will have to intensively weed them when they are less than two inches high. This will be an annoyance but not a catastrophe, since I'll be managing this bed daily.
My husband is an impatient fellow, and wants to purchase 1-2 foot saplings to plant to get a good start on a hedge. We found some at Musserforest.com for .40/each if you buy 300 or more. Not too bad until you consider the expense of renting a ditch witch to plant all those rascals! Dreading that weekend already. I must agree that having a finished hedge 2 years sooner is appealing.
I am more the patient type. I prefer seeds, (because I am frugal). It wont look as purposeful as weaving new canes together, but I wont bleed as much either!
I have read several websites that say in the fall: squish the fruit and make a slurry to drizzle in a shallow trench, gently push the dirt down on them, water some and wait. Others say it is worth the trouble to start seeds in containters and replant in hedge row in the spring. Still others say you are crazy to even consider an osage orange hedge.
Those who have tried the above scenarios, please enlighten me.
On the left: the largest-size flat rate priority mail box. Holds about eight horse apples in one layer, might hold a dozen if I whack some in half with a machete to fill the space on top.
On the right: one of the medium-sized flat rate priority mail boxes. Holds about six horse apples in one layer, maybe 8 if I throw some carefully-chosen hemispheres on top.
My postmaster is telling me these cost $17.90 and $12.65 to send to any US zipcode.
If you are really looking at osage you want to see about the work John Pair did. You can likely find some of his thornless male trees. There are great for all types of conditions where thorns and fruit would be an issue!
John Pair loved and promoted Osage oranges, in Kansas, for over 30 years. He left a few acolytes to carry the torch, notably Guy Sternberg of the Starhill Forest Arboretum in Petersburg, Illinois, and Andy Schmitz of the Brenton Arboretum in Dallas Center, Iowa. Andy is happy to sing the tree’s praises and counts 27 selections that he has acquired from the John Pair Center, from Sternberg, and from others. Among them are oddities such as ‘Cannon Ball’ with a fruit that weighs-in at a hefty three pounds and ‘BB’ that produces tiny hedge balls. But the goal, in a perfect world of care-free gardening, would be to introduce a male (no fruit!) with no thorns. Schmitz says ‘Denmark’ ‘Keokuk’, ‘Derby’ and ‘Triple O’ look promising. Life has to be full of promise for anyone who loves an Osage orange.