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Uses of Hedge Apples

fence post and barbed wire image by Jeff Dalton from

Hedge apples are considered big shrubs or small trees. They are known scientifically as Maclura pomifera, and are also commonly referred to as bodark, hedge ball, osage-orange and horse apple. The plants are deciduous. They bear round fruit that is wrinkled, bumpy, dense, green and approximately six inches in diameter. The fruits have a subtle fragrance that is reminiscent of oranges. There are various uses for hedge apples.

Spider and Pest Control

Hedge apples are used as a natural, inexpensive and chemical-free method of controlling and repelling spiders and other pests. The fruit's aromatic compounds are believed to drive away insects including crickets, box elder bugs, fleas and cockroaches. Hedge apples placed around a residence over tinfoil can help to control and repel spiders and other bugs in the home. The hedge apples should be sliced open to expose the flesh. The fruit emits a milky, sticky substance that can cause minor skin irritation to humans, so take care when handling it.


Hedge apples have historically been used as a way to fence in and control livestock (hence the name "hedge apple"). A row of Maclura pomifera trees should be planted closely together and pruned on a regular basis. This forms a strong, dense hedge that functions as a reliable and effective fence. Hedge apples also work very well as privacy fences for homes.


The trees produce a wood that is a yellowish-orange color, and very dense, heavy and closely-grained. Hedge apple wood is useful for the production of items including tree nails, tool handles, electrical insulators and fence posts. The wood is useful to make anything that calls for wood that can tolerate rot and that is dimensionally stable. A yellowish-orange dye can also be derived from the wood. The dye can function as a replacement for aniline and fustic dyes.

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