So why name our farm Hedge Post? Hedge, also known as Osage-orange, is a durable native tree in Kansas. It was widely used during the Dust Bowl years in windbreaks and shelterbelts, plantings that were designed to slow the loss of blowing soil and it was sometimes planted to serve as vegetative fences to contain cattle. Our farm is bordered with 80+ year old hedge trees planted in Dust Bowl era shelterbelts, as you see at right. When we are struck by summer drought, the Osage-orange trees tolerate the heat and dry conditions better than any of our non-irrigated deciduous trees. The bark of older trees will glow orange-brown and the inner wood and roots are a decidedly orangish color.
When we rebuild barbed-wire fences on our property, we will use trunk or branch sections of the hedge tree as corner posts and line posts. Osage-orange is well suited for fence building because the wood is very decay resistant. The tree is a good choice for conservation plantings, tough planting sites and the neighborhood squirrels love to eat the hedge-apple seeds. It also provides cover and nesting sites for quail, pheasant, other birds and animals.
Once established, it is a durable tree for community plantings but you will want to purchase a male cultivar of Osage-orange so you don't have hedge-apples dropping everywhere in the fall (unless you dig that kind of thing) and you might not enjoy being stabbed by the thorns that seedling trees can develop. Other uses of Osage-orange are to build bows, make rustic furniture or to harvest a bright yellow dye from the wood. We used reclaimed hedge posts from a fence line to build a grape trellis and an arbor. We make walking sticks, peg puzzles, pencil/pen holders, business card holders and novelty pieces from our trees. It's beautiful and durable wood!
A row of Osage-orange (Hedge) trees planted in the 1930's form a shelterbelt.