Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hedge Apples

Hedge Apples form the eastern border of our "40". In our quest to find out more about Hedge Apples or "Osage-orange", I headed to the web, which is reminiscent of one of my best friends as a child, the World Book Encyclopedia. The web could be considered to be an encyclopedia at one's finger tips. So here we go!

Wikipedia (02/16/08) tells me that the Osage-orange is common to this region and parts to the south. This sturdy plant was commonly used as a tree row windbreak in prairie states. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Great Plains Shelterbelt" WPA project, launched in 1934, used the Osage-orange as one of its major trees By 1942, 30,233 shelterbelts were planted containing 220 million trees and stretching 18,600 miles. Trees especially in the early stages have sharp thorns and were planted as cattle-deterring hedges before barbed wire. Later, they became an important source of fence posts.

I remember hearing as a kid that that when Osage-orange was used as fenceposts, the tree would resprout if the wood was "green". Thus, "hedges" would result. Richard wonders if the hedgerow on our east side may predate Roosevelt's program. To him, the trees look older. Plus, most of the WPA projects went into Plains states which were harder hit by the Dust Bowl than northeast Missouri.

Looking closely at this tangle of trees, one can see barbed wire between the trees. In some cases, the tree has grown around the barbed wire, as is shown in the above photo.

Whose hands planted these trees? What story would they tell of this land? What dreams did they bring to this place? What stories could these old trees tell?

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