Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hedge Apples

A farmer asked about planting hedge apples for a pasture fence row.

"Before the invention of barbed wire in the 1880's, many thousands of miles of hedge were constructed by planting young Osage Orange trees closely together in a line. The saplings were aggressively pruned to promote bushy growth. "Horse high, bull strong and hog tight." Those were the criteria for a good hedge made with Osage Orange. Tall enough that a horse would not jump it, stout enough that a bull would not push through it and woven so tightly that even a hog could not find its way through! After barbed wire made hedge fences obsolete, the trees still found use as a source of unbeatable fence posts. The wood is strong and so dense that it will neither rot nor succumb to the attacks of termites or other insects for decades. The trees also found use as an effective component of windbreaks and shelterbelts."

I don't know if grandpa or someone before him planted them but they grew like wildfire on the farm I was raised on. They became a pest like multiflora rose.

They make a fast windbreak but the thorns on them are really bad and many an old cow has died with a hedgeapple lodged in her throat. They make great firewood too but those thorns!

I guess if you have track vehicles they wouldn't be so bad but most of us run rubber tires that pop at any suggestion.

The fruit is kind of pretty but I just pointed out the pitfalls of the tree that produces them.
I have taken out a few around here and don't miss them.
I will miss the ash tree though.


  1. Very interesting, I always wondered about these trees that destroyed the chainsaw blade.

  2. Mike I have seen sparks fly from chain saw blades on the stuff, tough as iron!