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"Bad Milk and Flat Tires" By John Kahre

I spent many summer weeks on my Aunt and Uncle’s farm.  Fresh milk was delivered to the refrigerator, in the kitchen, on a regular schedule.  This was easily done as the farmhouse was never locked.  Money was left in the empty jar to pay for the delivery.  Fresh milk is different than milk bought in the store. The milk separated because it wasn’t homogenized, leaving a thick cream lying on top of the milk.

In the fall of the year, the milk would sometimes taste a little “off”.  The reason that was given for this was that the cows had eaten hedge apples.  Hedge apples are the fruit of a tree with a couple of common names; Osage orange, Hedge Apple Trees, and Bois D Arc. The botanical name is Maclura pomifera.

 These trees have been cursed by many, including my Uncle and my Dad, because they are so prolific that they encroach on pastures, sometimes taking over large areas of land.  Controlling these usually include mowing them with large brush hogs.  Unfortunately, mowing these young trees almost always resulted in flat tires since these trees have remarkably stout thorns.

I believe the Kahre family seal has a picture of a Kahre crushing these plants underfoot.  Indeed any Kahre, worth their weight in anything, will curse the ground that brings forth these “spawn of Satan”. Unfortunately, I am a bit of a turncoat to the cause.  I can find many reasons to celebrate these plants.

Native Americans used the amazingly tough wood from these trees to make their bows. Early settlers cut up the fruit and planted them along their property line.  The trees grew so dense and thorny that no domestic animal would venture through them.  Many of those hedge rows still exist today.  The wood is so rot resistant that they can be used for fence post that will last for decades.

The tree itself has many great attributes.  The tree has few, if any, pest problems.  It grows in a great range of soils and climates.  The thorns have also been overcome by genetics which has given way to a thorn less variety.  This tree may be hard to find in most nurseries, but one to definitely consider, in order to add to the diversity of our Tulsa Urban Forest.