The large, yellowish-green hedge apple may smell bad and look rather ugly, but the grapefruit-sized fruits are not toxic to people or animals. While people can’t eat the rough-looking, large apples, they can be used for a variety of purposes.
Some people place hedge apples around the outside of their homes to repel insects, suggesting that the fruits may be harmful to insects. The fruits discourage crickets, cockroaches and spiders from overwintering in the house.
The milky juice of the hedge apple’s stems and fruit can cause problems for people who handle the apples. The substance may cause an annoying irritation and redness of the skin. Wearing gloves when picking up the hedge apples can help prevent the problem.
Studies show hedge apples are not poisonous to cattle, which is a good thing since the trees are often used to help keep livestock from escaping. The trees serve as a densely-packed fence line on farms and ranches. The hedge balls may prove deadly, though, if one gets stuck in the cow’s esophagus and prevents release of gas.