Monkey balls, hedgeapples, spiders, and Wooly Mammoth scat

osage orange hedge apple monkey ball woolly mammoth scat

osage orange hedge apple monkey ball woolly mammoth scatCan you call anything as large as wooly mammoth dung “scat?” I don’t know, but I’ve taken the liberty anyway.

I don’t think they’ll have any mammoth scat listed Robson’s Who Pooped in the Park? series for kids, books geared to engage junior “rangers” through matching the crap with the animal. There are different editions so that children of all ages can, let’s say, appreciate the difference between grizzly bear poop in Glacier and black bear poop in Acadia.

WARNING! The creepiest spider in the world, the size of my hand, is pictured in this blog. Do NOT continue reading if you are even the slightest bit wigged out by spiders. (Let me know and I can send you a text-only version if you want to read without pictures.)

osage orange hedge apple monkey ball woolly mammoth scatIn June I saw a few Osage Oranges on the ground during one of my hikes. I was surprised, because in Pennsylvania, our “monkey balls” don’t drop until late summer, sometimes on the cusp of autumn.

This morning I was greeted by dozens of them strewn across the Heritage Trail lower path. I thought about coming back with a basket and making some jelly, but with only 9 days remaining, I didn’t want to spend them in the kitchen. Instead, I found myself thinking about wooly mammoth scat and wishing there were a Who Pooped in the Park: Ice Age edition.

osage orange hedge apple monkey ball woolly mammoth scat tree

Identifying an Osage Orange is relatively easy, even if you don’t see the fruit. The bark itself, with the sun on it, is kind of like the Burnt Sienna of a crayon box .

Osage Oranges are a peculiar tree in many ways. Unless you’ve been one of the unique individuals weird enough to add hedgeapples to your jelly, you probably see them as my husband does: a nuisance tree.

My 80-year-old neighbor swears by the Osage Oranges to ward off spiders from her rural home. When we moved in next door our house was flooded with wood spiders and wolf spiders. I took her advice and placed whole monkey balls in or near doorways and windows, and haven’t had a spider problem since. It’s been five years since I started doing that.

osage orange hedge apple monkey ball woolly mammoth scat Heritage Trail

The small grove of Osage Orange trees appears shortly after you crest the first small mound in the trail. The fruit-laden branches overhang the trail, so don’t get your noggin’ konked!

According to the Burke Museum website, this spider-warding property is a myth, given that spiders can’t smell. But the University of Nebraska website reports that A few years ago, Iowa State University toxicologists extracted compounds from hedge apples. When concentrated, these compounds were found to repel insects.If you go with the A=B, B=C, then A=C, you could jump to the idea that warding off prey will also ward off the predators, so I still go with the spider warding theory.

And between me and my 80-year-old neighbor, we’ll keep our own advice on this one. Of course, I have serious doubts that an Osage Orange or anything else would ward off this hand-sized arachnid I discovered in a squat toilet in Viet Nam. I say this fella gets the house, and I move out.

osage orange hedge apple monkey ball woolly mammoth poop scat

Gratuitous shock photo of unidentified spider the size of my hand, from a squat toilet in Viet Nam. Try peeing with this guy staring at you.

I once wrote an essay titled “The Evolution of Empathy” about the Osage Orange and the Joshua Tree. Both were once propagated by now extinct species. The Joshua Tree had the ground sloth and the Osage Orange had the Wooly Mammoth. Both ate, wandered and shat, spreading the trees all along their ranges.

osage orange hedge apple monkey ball woolly mammoth scatI’m just rummaging through my thoughts today while working on a few more essays, sharing snippets with you as I go.

If you have time to take a walk on the Heritage Trail right now, check out the hedgeapples along the flat path (take a left after you cross the bridge). We also flushed out a flock of turkeys and another doe and fawn, and a bit of scat I couldn’t identify. Wish I had a Who Pooped in the Park: Heritage Trail edition!

Love, Marla

6 Comments on “Monkey balls, hedgeapples, spiders, and Wooly Mammoth scat

  1. Pingback: A Lot of Bull Sh*t: Big Five, Part 2 | Traveling MarLa

  2. Pingback: Hatcher Hill Paw Paws, Sunrise Falls and the Graves of Anger and Hunger | travelingmarla

  3. I’m fairly certain you could use that hedge-apple to beat that spider to death,that or just throw and nope it distracts him. >shudders<
    Glad you didn't confuse hedge-apples for road-apples! 😉

  4. I’m sorry sis, but this is the second time I’ve seen a pic of that spider, and I must whole-heartedly disagree…I think that is one of the prettiest spiders I’ve ever seen! Eye of the beholder, I guess.

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