How to Control Osage Orange


Osage orange is native to a small river valley area in Texas. The plant was carried across the United States by settlers looking for fencing alternatives before the invention of twisted and barbed wire. Osage orange trees make good choices for a planted barrier because the trees form a dense canopy of thorn-bearing shrubs. The thorny branches that made it such an ideal plant for fencing now make it a pain to live with and difficult to control.

Shrub Control

Step 1

Mow the Osage orange saplings to the ground with a tractor that has a mowing attachment.

Step 2

Pull on heavy boots, long pants, long sleeves and long gloves before directly handling osage orange trees or shrubs.

Step 3

Rake up mulch and sapling branches and discard them.

Step 4

Paint the exposed ends of osage orange stumps and sticks with a systemic herbicide that contains triclopyr to kill the plants and prevent new saplings from springing up from the roots.

Step 5

Repeat this process yearly.

Tree Control

Step 1

Cut lower branches of an Osage orange tree to create a path to the trunk. Grasp each branch with one hand to control it. Position a pair of branch loppers just inside your grasping hand. Snip off the ends of the branch where you are grasping to prevent the branch from snapping back and injuring you with the thorns.

Step 2

Remove the bark of an Osage Orange tree in a 1-inch wide, 1-inch deep gouge around the base of the trunk with an axe. This is a process called girdling a tree.

Step 3

Apply a systemic herbicide containing triclopyr to the gouge in the tree. Follow the label instructions for dosage.

Step 4

Wait for the tree to die before removing it to prevent new shoots from developing. The bole of the tree trunk will turn grey, and the leaves will turn brown and crunchy when the tree dies.

Step 5

Cut down the tree at ground level with a chain saw.

Step 6

Watch the area containing the tree's roots for new shoots. Remove these shoots promptly.

Things You'll Need

  • Tractor
  • Mowing attachment
  • Protective clothing
  • Protective gloves
  • Protective boots
  • Rake
  • Systemic Herbicide
  • Branch loppers
  • Axe
  • Chain saw


  • Iowa State University Extension: Osage Orange - Maclura pomifera
  • Alabama Extension Service: Herbicides
  • University of Missouri Extension: Pasture Weed & Brush Control

Who Can Help

  • Great Plains Nature Center: Osage Orange
Keywords: removing thorny hedges, eliminating Osage Orange, hedgeapple tree control

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."