New to Ozark....Please tell me about Hedge Apples.

pamcrews(6 SW Missouri)November 15, 2005

Hi All. Well we finally made the move from Florida to Missouri and I'm in need of some good ole mid-west education. As my husband and I have been out scouting around looking for property to buy we have noticed these yellow/green large round citrus looking fruits in fields and on the side of the roads. Just today I found out the name....AKA Hedge Apples. I've googled it and see that they can be a repellent to insects and spiders. Is that true? Does it really work? Would love to know what does one really do with these....hedgeapples....other than let them rot in a field?


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Ref: Forest Trees of Oklahoma page 71
Osage Orange aka Bodarc, hedge apple, or mock orange
Planted considerably as a hedge fence
Used mostly for hedges or living fence posts
The bark has been used for tanning leather
The wood is used for posts, lumber, and fuel
Native Americans used wood for bows and war clubs
May be used as a source of dye to produce khaki color
Have been told that the fruits possess repellent qualities

    Bookmark   November 16, 2005 at 6:07AM
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I tried the repellant idea once and couldn't see any results.
They make outstanding fence posts, will outlive all of us.
We are just getting ready to have some fence built and the guys were happy to find large, straight trees to use for the corner posts.

You will have to keep them mowed (with a brush hog) from your property or they become a jungle where you can't even walk. Just leave a few if you want. Livestock will eat the fruit and there have been instances of them choking on the smaller ones. I have them all over the farm and so far, it hasn't been an issue for us.

Welcome to the Ozarks! What a change from Florida with these temps were are currently having.......


    Bookmark   November 16, 2005 at 6:44AM
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TammyJ(z6 S.W. Mo)

My horses used to eat them quite often. Hedge trees do make great fence posts, it doesn't seem like they ever rot. You will quickly dull a chainsaw if you try to cut the trees, the wood is very strong. Be very careful about burning hedge wood in a fireplace. It gets VERY HOT. If I remember correctly, it also pops alot.
Hubby asked me to build a fire one cold winter night about 20 years ago, I knew better than to put a large piece of hedge wood in, but thought a small piece would be OK.
I put a stick in that was smaller than the thickness of a broom handle and about 8-10 inches long, and got the fire started. We had automatic blowers on the fireplace and they kicked on fast. (This was in a mobile home.) Within a very short period of time, the blowers were forcing the heat throughout the house and we had to open the front and back doors to cool the house down. The snow had melted off the roof and the chimney was orange. It was a wonder that I didn't burn the place down. Hubby was trying to figure out what I did! He thought I had put in a large stick. Now he builds the fires, and keeps reminding me not to put in the hedge sticks. LOL

    Bookmark   November 17, 2005 at 10:04PM
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pamcrews(6 SW Missouri)

thanks all for some very good info. Now while we are out driving around on our property/house search I can't help but look at the fences that are constructed with all the hedge wood. Thanks Tammy for the info about trying to cut them. My hubby is a big user of a chain we know.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2005 at 10:10PM
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Millie_36(Z6b MO)

Hedge apples can be used for crafting flowers. (Use a knife that you won't mind loosing...the sap is milky and very sticky. Not sure now, but think I may have used some type of stripper/varnish remover to clean mine.) Make 1/4 inch slices and dehydrate them at a low enough temp not to cook them...think I did it using a gas oven pilot light. Anyway, they will shrink a bit and be wavy...light green with the seeds making dark spots. Drill two holes in the a stem wire up through one hole and down through the other...twist the wire to make a stem. Glue some sesame or mustard seeds over the wire to make a center for your flower. Can be sprayed with a clear varnish type stuff to hold the color.

I don't remember how I prevented them from sticking to whatever they lie on as they dry....long time ago.

Welcome to the Ozarks, Pam. Did you get here in time to see a bit of color? I think the first weekend of Nov. was probably the best for color this year.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2005 at 11:21AM
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pamcrews(6 SW Missouri)

Hi Millie. are a girl after my own heart! I'll have to give 'em a try.

Yes we did get here the week of peak color. I can only say one word! BEAUIFUL... I had never seen such colors, I was in awe. I feel like I've come home to a place I've never been.....This is home...without a doubt!


    Bookmark   November 20, 2005 at 6:56PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

I'm helping my dad clear out some timber. We're cutting down osage oranges. You can cut them with a chainsaw, a good chainsaw. After about 5, the chain needs to be sharpened, but other than that, you can cut them with a chainsaw. Also, my dad was wanting wood for his fireplace and I asked about using the osage. He said it would "melt" the fireplace. So as someone else said, don't use the osage for a fire...unless it's a bonfire, then it burns pretty darned

    Bookmark   November 20, 2005 at 8:50PM
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As stated, Osage Orange makes a superb, long-lasting fence post, though after they're seasoned, you've almost got to drill pilot holes to drive a nail or fence staple into them. The wood contains a natural fungicide, hence they are very, very slow to rot, even at the soil interface.
The native Americans frequently used OO for constructing bows - hence the French name bois d'arc - wood of the bow - slurred in to bodock or bodark. Even today, traditional archers and bowyers prefer OO and will go to great lengths to procure good lengths of OO wood which can be fasioned into longbows - there are several online sites where one can purchase OO staves or ready-made bows of OO wood.

I think the 'spider-repellent' properties are overstated.

Aside from fenceposts, bows, living fences, and crafts, another use is as a rootstock for an edible fruit, Cudrania tricuspidata, aka Chinese Che or Mandarin Melon Berry - this close relative will graft, quite readily, onto OO seedlings, and produces a tasty fruit that resembles a small red-orange hedgeapple fruit.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chinese Che

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 12:24PM
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Hi Pam - If your new home doesn't have any hedge apple trees, don't feel bad. I'll loan you a few of my hedge apples if you want some for crafts or whatever. Our property had an old fence row down one side about a quarter of a mile long so I have plenty. Our tree at the front corner of our property had a bumper crop last year. There must've been hundreds just on that tree. My kids made a huge jack-o-lantern out of them in the front yard and spelled out BOO. This year they were ready to do it again and they fell a little late for Halloween.
Don't get too excited about the insect repelling qualities and be careful - they get sticky and would stain your floor or carpet if you brought them in the house. I'm still waiting for a good use to be discovered so I can make some money. lol They must be good for something! I do think squirrels will eat them. I find half-eaten ones occasionally.
How's your house hunting going? Hold out for a big yard so you can do some gardening. You'll find one. We warned you about the rocks right? : )

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 12:51PM
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There are few things, short of a decomposing body, that smell much worse than wet, rotting OO fruits. I know (on both accounts).
Squirrels & mice probably consume more OO seeds than anything else, but I've seen cows pick up the fruits, after they've been through a few freeze/thaw cycles, roll 'em around in their mouths, chewing/mashing them up, and swallowing them. However, on occasion, they don't chew them sufficiently, and they lodge in their esophagus, causing potentially fatal bloating, if you're not able to pass a stomach tube and push them the rest of the way down into the rumen(stomach).

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 10:39AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I don't know how you are cutting them. Mine are so thorny that you can't get to the branches. I have been thinking of making an arching trellis from osage orange for ages. I wonder if the smallest branches will also last for years. The branches have an interesting shape. The big trees aren't bad, but the sprouts will go through your tires. I wouldn't plant them or allow the seeds to spread.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2005 at 1:59AM
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I have hedge apple trees on my property.... boy do I, and let me tell you, these are my least favorite trees, rivaled only by the thorned honey locusts I have growing.

But the hedge apples are definitely worse. For one thing, the "apples" are inedible. There are probably in excess of 100 of them in an area out back between two large trees, and NOTHING, and I do mean nothing has even nibbled on them. The fruits are more like minature bowling balls, heavy with a bad smell, and if you pick them up they'll leak a very sticky sap onto your hands and clothing.

The wood is amongst the hardest of any I've ever encountered outside of petrified wood. VERY hard to saw or prune.

But per pruning, it isn't the hardness that's so bad... these trees are covered with thorns, and puncture wounds from them seem to have some kind of venom. It's like getting jabbed by a catfish's spines.

This fall I took a huge chipper out back and started trying to prune and chip some limbs off these two monster sized OOs. I was repeatedly jabbed, scratched, poked, and stabbed by the thorns, some of which are absolutely huge. When the "fruit" do fall on you, it's like getting hit by a softball.

This spring I'm determined to remove those Ossage Orange/Hedge Apple trees and replace them with something enjoyable.

The ONLY redeeming thing -- aside from the wood being turbo sturdy -- is they are not a bad looking tree...

.. like if you see them along the road in the country.

But I cannot even fathom someone actually planting one anywhere near their house.

It's the worse tree on my land, hands down.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 4:47PM
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