Q. Dear Twig: What are those green things? Under that tree? They're all kind of big, round and wrinkly.
A. So, like, I can't see the tree. I can't see the green things. But maybe I can guess what they are. You say they're green. You say they're big, round and wrinkly. And I know that it's fall right now.
So: My guess is that they're Osage ("OH-sayj") oranges, the fruit of the tree of the same name. The fruit of the Osage-orange tree, that is. They're as big as a softball but heavier. Pukey neon green. And wrinkly like a brain.
In fall, they fall to the ground. They fall to the ground under their tree. Unless you get in the way. And then if one of them falls on your head, then you, yourself, might fall down as well. As will the fruit. To the ground. And then it might fall on your head again. Which would, by then, be down on the ground. Ow. I seem to have lost my point here somewhere.
Next: A desperate search to find it! Along with some real Osage oranges!
P.S. Go here to learn about Osage-orange trees: http://ohioline.osu.edu/b700/b700_33.html.
The URL is for the Osage-orange page in Ohio State University Extension's very helpful, very thorough Ohio Trees bulletin.
See really nice photos of Osage oranges, including ones up in a tree before falling and a super-great closeup of one, at http://fireflyforest.net/firefly/2005/10/25/osage-orange/.
Also: Artful arty Osage oranges! — http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ny/plants-flowers/look-osage-oranges-at-takashimaya-066314.
"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," published by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — specifically, by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College — is a weekly feature for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. It's written at, to and for a 4th-grade reading level.
For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, firstname.lastname@example.org, (330) 263-3776.
Blatant Twig Promotion:
See Twig at the 2008 Buckeye Book Fair (http://www.buckeyebookfair.com/), "Ohio's biggest literary event," 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1, in Fisher Auditorium at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, Ohio. Free admission. He'll be there selling and signing his books: Purple and Green and Stinky in Spring (bugs, plants, water, wildlife and farming), Hairy Blenny and the Monkeyface Prickleback (freshwater life), and the all-new, not-even-out-yet Beware the Flying Steamer Duck! (birds). In all, 82 writers, illustrators and photographers will be there, with their books selling at up to a 10-percent discount off the cover price and no sales tax charged. The Buckeye Book Fair brings Ohio authors together with the reading public and raises money for libraries and literacy programs.