Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hedge Trees

On a road somewhere south of Paxton (I think it was Road E W-S or Road E V-S. I can't understand the road-naming system in Keith County), there is a row of Hedge trees planted along the road. It's winter, so naturally the trees weren't very pretty, but I hadn't previously known that Hedge trees could grow in Nebraska.

Hedge or Osage Orange, is a native of Texas bu can now be found across the Great Plains because it was frequently planted to provide living fences. They grow quickly, can be pruned to grow very densely, are very hardy and long-lived, plus they have sharp spines! Good qualities for any fence.

Besides the living hedgerows, posts made from Osage Orange last seemingly forever! If you're ever driving in the Sandhills and come across a pig-tight, horse-high, bull-strong barbed wire fence made of spindly, crooked posts, you're seeing Hedge posts. (for you purists, most barbed-wire fences aren't horse-high.) Some of these posts date back into the early to mid decades of the 20th century when the fences were first installed.
Hedge trees bear fruit, commonly called Hedge Balls or Hedge Apples among other names. Squirrels love the seeds they contain, and they are edible, but the fruit that surrounds them is much too difficult to remove to make eating the seeds worthwhile - unless you indeed are a squirrel. The balls in this picture are old and dried up - but when squished still ooze a sticky white liquid. Old wives tales hold that Hedge Balls placed throughout the house will repel insects, and you can often find them for sale in local grocery stores, but I haven't found it to be true.

You never know what you're going to find on a road trip through the Nebraska country side. You just have to get out there, and keep your eyes open!

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

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