Hedge apples

garden_mama(z5 OH)October 17, 2002

You all might think I am nuts but I would like to grow a hedge apple tree, do not know any other name for it. I picked up a hedge apple from one of my walks the other day. NOW WHAT DO I DO WITH IT?

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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

I'm curious about this! What is a hedge apple?

(I know what a road apple is...)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2002 at 3:15PM
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alanrocks(z6 KY)

Hedge apples are another name osage orange. I would assume you let the fruit ripen completely, then remove the seeds from the center and plant them. Osage orange is one of the densest hardwoods around, so don't plant it somewhere that you will need to cut it down in a few years! The osage oranges are also not fun to mow over. By they, they were first noted scientifically on the Lewis and Clark expedition!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2002 at 9:11PM
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Osage Orange or (Hedge Apples) Grow very slow so be prepaired for a long wait before you have a tree of any size. I also think you will have better luck starting one if you hunt a young sprout around an older tree. Then you can move it to where you want it. The wood makes some of the most beautiful furnature you will ever see. It will not rot when it is dead either. Some folks use them for fence post because they will not rot. Some time the post will sprout and grow after it has been put in the ground and that is why they are found in old fence rows or as there name implies (Hedges.)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2002 at 11:43AM
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blueflint(z6a OH)

Like Country Jim said, it makes nice furniture and is prized for both rifle stocks and bows.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2002 at 11:13PM
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The apples can be collected to make a fence. It was used before barbed wire was invented. They were put in a container and left to rot some. Mixed with water and mashed and mixed up. A shallow trench is dug where the fence is wanted, and this mixture poured in it. Osage will sprout. Deer eat them as well as other animals. If you want them....get them now as they won't be there later. The wood, which is a beautiful yellow makes primo bows.....I have made a few. The juice is iritatiting to some people. Also, they don't keep spiders away. I tried it and had spider webs on them.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2002 at 1:59AM
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garden_mama(z5 OH)

Thanks for all the info, I just remember these on the farm as a kid and the musty smell of the 'apple' was all ways intriguing. It might be awhile but I am sure the DH will find use for the wood. Just another reason, does not have a stock of hedge apple wood, to create a new gun or bow...The 'apples' I have collected are huge, I do not remember them getting this big as a kid. I have plenty of time and space to whach them grow. If I remember correctly the tree its self is small, maybe 25 to 30 feet in height, with a very interesting bark...

    Bookmark   October 21, 2002 at 9:31AM
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The tree will get bigger than 25 or 30 feet but they have to be very old to get large. I think the type of soil will have a lot to do with there size and speed of groth as well. I never did hear of the apples keeping spiders away. I have heard that they will keep chicken mites and roaches away but I knid of dought if that works either or more folks would be using them. The wood makes beautiful Grandfather clocks also.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2002 at 11:35AM
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I have a huge osage orange in my back yard that has grown into a sort of heart shaped design, which I think is really lovely in the winter. The shade is dense, which is great on those hot summer days.

just watch out when gardening under them in the fall. Those apples will conk you on the head a good one! On the other hand, we get good at shouting "incoming!" or "timber!" whenever we hear the crashing of leaves in the hedge apple tree!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2002 at 10:17PM
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lady_6(z6 KY)

what do they smell like..we have them all over the place here[other people's fields], but I don't remember smelling any..they are really pretty aren't they..Hettie

    Bookmark   October 28, 2002 at 12:51AM
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I am intrigued by the qualities of osage-orange wood, my question is where or how can I get some?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2002 at 9:49AM
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garden_mama(z5 OH)

rhorx57, I will pick one up on my walk tonight, then I will get in touch with you and send it to you.

lady 6, they have a real musty / herbal scent, it does not smell like any other herb. The one I picked up is larger than a soft ball, twice as big. They are yellow / green in color and have a 'brain' pattern on the outside. We use to decorate with them in the fall and we all ways believed that if you lined the celler with them you would ward of spiders.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2002 at 11:50AM
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lady_6(z6 KY)

thanks I may see if I can get some for decorating this fall..would love to grow some, would they cross with my other apple trees? If not may try some on the fence row..Hettie

    Bookmark   October 28, 2002 at 11:53PM
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Garden mama; I really didn't want the hedge apple, I am only interested in the wood, I probably won't live long enough for it to develop from seed, but I thank you very much for the offer.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2002 at 10:15AM
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henryr10(z6 OH)

lady6, They are not really 'apples'.
From a distance they just look like them.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2002 at 12:19PM
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garden_mama(z5 OH)

rhorx57, OK, I was going to pick a couple more up anyway, I just like the color they add to the pumpkin-pine cone-grape vine THING (has DH calls it) I have setting outside.....

    Bookmark   October 29, 2002 at 3:47PM
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I have one that is getting big, probably 15 feet across. If anyone wants the wood, you are welcome to come cut it down!!! We were tired of the thorns causing flat tires on the tractor and tried to cut it down. Besides it dulling the chain saw, every time we got poked with a thorn we got huge welts. So the bush still stands we just avoid cutting anywhere near it with the tractor.

There was one that was cut down when the house was built. The trunk was at least 10" wide and laid in the bottom of a dry pond for 5 years - I say dry pond but it does fill with water every spring and stays wet for several months through the early summer. When we bought the house we cleared out the pond and that wood was still as green as the apples that it produces. I had no idea that the wood was usable, it ended up being hauled away by a friend for firewood.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2002 at 8:35PM
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lady_6(z6 KY)

Thanks I'm late reading and responding to post..thanks I really want to try raising some..Hettie

    Bookmark   November 1, 2002 at 7:16PM
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Kris_Stone(z6a KY)

Just for everyone's info: Osage Orange is actually a member of the Mulberry family (Moraceae). Apples belong to a completely different family of plants (Rosaceae) therefore they are totally unrelated to apples.

The latin name for Osage Orange is (Maclura pomifera) verses Malus genus for Apples.

There are actually cutivars available that don't produce fruit. I've always admired the glossy foliage and the unique growing habits of this tree. I think if properly trained they can become an attractive, and highly interesting tough shade tree...though I would use a fruitless selection in a lawn.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2002 at 9:45PM
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JannEd(6 MO)

One thing I learned early on, when I first discovered them on a road trip to Kansas City, that one half is poison for deer, while the other half is very nutricious for them. Someone had been 'feeding' deer (illegally, I am sure) up where my husband hunts, and when he went up there today there were several hedge apples all around the area. He brought a HUGE one home to get the seeds out of, for planting.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2003 at 6:19PM
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M.pomifera, as Kris pointed out, is a member of the Moraceae, related to mulberries and figs, and is commonly used as a rootstock for Cudrania tricuspidata, the Chinese Che fruit or 'Mandarin Melon Berry' - which looks very much like a small hedgeapple, turning orange-red when ripe, and (supposedly) having a flavor reminiscent of watermelon.

rhorx, you can purchase Osage orange staves, etc. online.

Here is a link that might be useful: OsageOrange.com

    Bookmark   January 13, 2003 at 9:46AM
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For a bit of trivia on hedge apples, some years ago my wife and I happened onto the largest osage orange tree either in the US, or maybe even the world. There was a rather small sign at the site. It is located about 3 miles NE of Maize, Kansas just northwest of Wichita. It is located in a north-south running hedge row and measures some 30-plus feet in circumference!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2003 at 9:54PM
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Quickstart(SW Pa.)

We had 20 trees along our property line when I was a kid and we called them Monkey Balls. Given that name when they are small in forming the fruit. CAUTION burning this wood indoors !! It will crackle & pop with large dense embers.
Burns slow and hot. We had a fireplace and you needed to be very carefull when adding wood. Embers would pop and shoot well beyond other hard woods.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2003 at 12:05PM
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A friend of mine has a few trees. I do put them in the shed, and it seems to keep the spiders away for me. I have also been told they keep the mice out. I have 3 cats so I dont know about that one. I have also sliced them with a knife and let them dry. They make the prettiest dried flower. End up on the leathery side but most interesting.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2003 at 8:11PM
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jimmygardenseed(z5 Ind)

hi your osage orange are poisonous to people. the american indians used this wood to make bows to hunt and defend themselves with....marvin

    Bookmark   March 1, 2003 at 7:18AM
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I have also heard it called "ironwood" because the wood is so hard. Back about 1985, a rancher friend of mine had a boundary dispute with one of his neighbors and had to tear down a fence that his father had built in 1947. The corner posts were made from hedgeapple. When he dug them up, they were actually still green!! I took some of them and used them for fence posts and they are still there today!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2003 at 3:40PM
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grandma_debbie(5 (Indiana))

Does anyone know when they start falling off the trees? I'm in Indiana and would like to find some, anyone know where I can get some?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2003 at 10:44PM
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I live in Chadwick, MO, out in the country. We have a hedge apple tree next to our house and every now and then they fall on our roof and it sounds like a stampede. I heard that they are good for keeping bugs away and spiders. I have to go in my basement to do laundy but can't because of the spiders being so bad, i was wondering if someone knew for sure if they help keep spiders and roaches away. Also I have cats and rabbits so I need to know if they are deadly to these animals. If you know anything please amail me, kwarrick123@aol.com, thankyou.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Web

    Bookmark   October 13, 2003 at 11:54AM
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grandma debbie - I am about 30 minutes from Richmond, Indiana , how close are you? Mine haven't started falling yet but probably within the next couple of weeks.

Let me know if you want some, we could meet in Richmond somewhere. I would offer to mail them but they are very heavy so I would imagine shipping would be expensive!!!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2003 at 1:27PM
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I have been told that if you cut up the Hedge apples and put the pieces all around where mice come in that they will eat them and die. I haven't tried it yet,but my friend lives in a log house way out in the country. She hasn't had rodents for 2 years because she scatter pieces of Hedge apples.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2003 at 5:46PM
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If anyone's still interested in acquiring a tree and live in or around the Cincinnati area, here's a nursery that has small ones for sale to the public. Use to be wholesale only, but opened to the public this year

Here is a link that might be useful: Earthscape Nursery

    Bookmark   October 23, 2003 at 3:31PM
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undercover_owl(8 Pac.NW)

This spring I planted Osage Orange seeds, and they are doing very well. When you say they grow slowly, how slow is that, really? For example, how tall would I expect a 2 year old seedling to be?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2004 at 6:44AM
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byrdzeye(z5 OH)

I disagree on the slow growing issue. It might take a couple of years to reach 5-6 ft but after that you can expect several feet or more growth each year.

I have a 3 year tree thats about 8 ft tall and has been cut back hard twice.

Its growing in the front garden, not allowed to kill it since my daughter planted it and is quite proud of her 'sucess'.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 3:16PM
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I have never heard of a hedge apple but want to try them for warding off spiders. I live in Canada. Are these grown all over?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 4:04PM
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They use to be everywhere in the plains states. I think they are from the Oklahoma/Kansas/South Dakota area? Anyway, they prefer sunny spots, aren't fussy about soil, and are hardy to zone 5.

I'd forgotten about their other common name: "bodark". It's a contraction of the French "bois d'arc" because it was used to make bows.

(Did you know you can purchase the fruit online? I'd hate to think what the postage is on a couple of those babies!)

Here is a link that might be useful: More info about osage orange trees.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2004 at 7:00PM
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I have some hedge apples in the sink wondering how to clean them. They seem a little stick. I just removed them, took a toothbrush w/dawn soap and scrubed them a bit. A white substance is leaking from some of them. Now what?
Is there anyway to preserve them to use in decorating?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2004 at 10:27PM
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Last fall I placed a hedge apple in a 1/2 gallon milk jug that had been cut in half and had slits cut on the side.Dropped in an "apple" and put on the deck for the winter. The idea was for the apple to sit in water or snow all winter, but not be completely covered. In the spring took the very smelly mush and spread on dirt, watered and waited. In no time I had dozens of seedlings. I planted out 3 which are about 18 inched tall now.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 5:14AM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Lynne882, I am going to try slicing and drying them, I have heard they are very interesting. I could only find one website with any information on drying them. I'm not sure when to pick them, my bush is loaded with them this year so I may try picking some this weekend and see how it goes.


Here is a link that might be useful: drying hedge apples

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 7:48PM
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Photobug(Z6 Central Ohio)

I couldn't help but post a link to one of our community artworks in Dublin, Ohio titled "Field of corn with osage orange trees". Enjoy!

Here is a link that might be useful: Field of corn with osage orange trees

    Bookmark   October 11, 2004 at 9:54PM
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I am surprised no one has mentioned this. When I was small, we gathered hedge apples, dried them slightly, then when we had campfires in the fall, we would toss the apples in. They made the fire turn all different colors.

Now, remember, I have not done this for about 40 years, so memory may have made the colors more vivid...... LOL But as a child, I remember being so amazed by this!

Also, we were warned to never bush hog around the couple trees on our property, unless we wanted a LOT more trees. The ol' feller who taught my Ex about bush hogging said if you bush hog over any branches or young trees coming up, the force of the bush hog will drive some of the cut up pieces into the ground, and they will all grow.

So, if you wanted more trees, you might just try taking some branches and sticking them in the ground with a little rooting hormone on the end, like you do for weeping willow.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2004 at 11:12PM
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undercover_owl(8 Pac.NW)

(Funny I didn't realize I was posting in the Ohio valley forum.. I got this thread by searching for maclura pomifera)

Now, about the growth rate: My 15 or so seedlings--which grew from seeds this spring--are huge! Some of them are already moved into 5 gallon containers! A couple of them are 2.5' tall above-soil-level! That's fairly fast growing, in my opinion. It remains to be seen whether this growth rate will continue.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2004 at 6:20PM
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homegrown54(z6 SE Ohio)

My husband and I are traditional archers, and can concur on its use to bowyers. This tough wood is a beautiful orange color and highly prized for "bow staves." Someone told me once about putting them in the house to repel spiders, but never mentioned mice! One thing to remember is, if they are green, put some plastic or thick newsprint under then 'cause they will get moldy and a little icky. As far as what they look like, I think it's not so much like an apple, although they are round, they're more like a round "warty" gourd that folks use to grow wren houses. I'm going to try that thing with drying them and tossing them into the campfire! Sounds like fun!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 10:45AM
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Hedge Apple trees have to be one of my least favorite trees to deal with. I have several extrememly large ones and I hate them.

For one, the *hedge apple* is a large, VERY HEAVY fruit that gets scattered everywhere. They are a pain to pickup because there's a lot of them and they are heavy. Like a child's bowling ball.

Once scattered, they rot all over the place. As far as I can tell, NOTHING eats them. They have been laying around in an opening down a path in the woods, and none have even a single bite removed.

The trees are absolutely horrible to prune. There are spines everywhere, and when then jab you, they don't just pierce the skin. Like catfish spines, they seem to emit some kind of venom.

I was pruning the largest one last weekend in spite of getting constantly jabbed and stung. That night I developed huge welts at the site of each jab -- and I do not have sensitive skin.

The wood is as hard as granite when it gets old. It's super hard to prune and to even saw with a chainsaw.

And while they don't get particularly tall, the canopy is of a very large diameter, and virtually no light penetrates.

I'm trying to clear these horrid things out so I can plant some useful fruit trees, and it's been like clearing out a hornets' nest in shorts and a tank top.

Oh, I'm equally lucky to have several huge honey locust trees in the area as well -- the kind which also have HUMONGOUS thorns.

Both of these trees (hdgapples and h.locust) look nice while you're driving along the highway in the country looking out the window, but if you ever have to actually do anything to maintain them you'll discover what a pain the backside these functionless trees are -- at least that's my take on them.

Your mileage may vary....

- john

I would NOT plant these in my yard if I were you.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 5:41PM
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I have to restate, because reading those of you wanting to plant hedge apples is like going down to Georgia and telling people you want to pick some kudzu so you can plant a big patch of it in your yard.

The OO's aren't invasive in the way of kudzu, but they are a TERRIBLE tree to have growing ANYWHERE where you'd have to actually get within 20 feet of them.

I'd no sooner plant hedge apples in my yard then I'd plant poison ivy to grow on the side of my house.

You'll have nothing but problems with these obnoxious, spiny, trash-producing trees.

The only thing I could see useful in planting Osage Orange would be to create a barrier, because they make a h_ll of a barrier.

Trust me, I know this all too well....

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 5:11PM
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I thought all that are posting to this one might find this interesting, the link below.

Also, I'd like to mention that my parents used hedge apples for years to repel bugs!

I heard a story once too, could be true, maybe not, but there is supposed to be a green nut of some type that you can toss into still water and temporarily paralyze fish and they will float to the top and you can pick them like flowers!! Lore or Fact????
This is supposed to have originated in Native American culture...

Here is a link that might be useful: Hedge Apple Survey

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 11:55AM
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philmont_709n2(z6 Ohio)

I have many osage orange/ hedge apple seeds if anyone would like to trade. they are very common trees around here.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 8:52PM
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I see this thread hasn't been active in quite a while, but someone may find this interesting. Here in Wichita, Kansas, Osage Orange trees are all over the place, but they have the negative reputation alluded to by a couple of posters above, and I've never heard of anyone purposely planting one or even seen one available in any nursery. That said, I find them fascinating, never having seen or heard of them until I moved here from Wisconsin. The reason they're called hedge apple trees is because settlers planted them as hedgerows, for exactly their obnoxious qualities of being dense, thorny, and very hardy. They acted not only as wind barriers, but virtually as fences. In fact, it's common in the newer parts of Wichita, which were once farmland, to find three or more Osage Oranges in a row oriented exactly north-south or east-west -- then, you can be sure you've found the remnants of an old hedgerow. FYI, farms (and now, city streets) here are laid out on a one mile-by-one mile grid, because much of Kansas is just as flat as you've heard.
OO Fan

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 5:10PM
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I am looking for hedge apples in the Cincinnati area preferably Princeton school district, Fairfield area. My mom and I used to be able to find them along the side of the road but these areas have been developed into shopping centers and apartment complexes. From what I have been reading on here they must have had a time removing those trees. Anyway any info on finding them would be helpful. Would love to keep the spiders away. Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 9:50PM
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My parents have 8 acres up near oxford which is loaded with them. Quite the chore to clean up after.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2008 at 9:14PM
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Why would any gardener want to keep the spiders away? Spiders are great for the garden! Plus, it's questionable that planting hedge apples would actually keep any spiders away in the first place.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 10:47AM
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We have osage orange trees on our property. We make Hedge Apple Christmas Trees out of them and keep them outside.

Here is a link that might be useful: What to do with Hedge Apples

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 3:27PM
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I would like to try to build a living fence so If anyone has any Hedge apples they would like to get rid of, let me know. I would be happy to buy some from you or pay the shipping.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 10:02AM
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