What is a Hedge Apple | Are Hedge Apples Edible

Hedge apples, also known as Osage oranges or horse apples, are the fruit of the Osage orange tree (Maclura pomifera). Despite their name, they are not related to apples or oranges. Here’s a closer look at this unique fruit and its characteristics:


  • Appearance: Hedge apples are large, green, and round, typically measuring 3-5 inches in diameter. They have a bumpy, wrinkled surface.
  • Tree: The Osage orange tree is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree native to the central United States. It has thorny branches and bright green, glossy leaves.
  • Uses: Historically, the dense wood of the Osage orange tree was used by Native Americans for making bows. The trees were also planted as natural fences or hedges before the invention of barbed wire, thanks to their thorny branches.

Growth and Habitat

  • Range: Osage orange trees are found across the United States, particularly in the Midwest and South.
  • Conditions: They thrive in a variety of soil types and are often planted in hedgerows or used for erosion control.

Are Hedge Apples Edible?

The edibility of hedge apples is a common question. Here’s what you need to know:


  • Toxicity: Hedge apples are generally considered inedible for humans. The milky sap found in the fruit and stems can cause skin irritation. The seeds inside the fruit are technically edible but are not worth the effort due to the thick, tough exterior and unpalatable taste of the pulp.
  • Animals: While humans typically do not consume hedge apples, some animals, like squirrels, may eat the seeds. Livestock generally avoid them.


  • Pest Repellent: Hedge apples are often touted as a natural pest repellent. Some people place them around their homes or gardens to deter insects and spiders, although scientific evidence supporting this use is limited.
  • Decorative: Due to their unique appearance, hedge apples are sometimes used in fall decorations.


Hedge apples, or Osage oranges, are interesting fruits from a unique tree with historical and practical significance. While they are not suitable for human consumption, they have various uses in pest control and decoration. The Osage orange tree itself remains valued for its hard wood and natural fencing capabilities.

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