Osage orange firewood, also known as hedge, horse apple or bodark, is one of the best firewood types available.
This oddly shaped tree does not grow very tall (roughly 26-49 feet) but its wood is extremely dense making it a great firewood choice.
However, just because it produces a lot of BTU's doesn't necessarily mean the wood is cherished by everyone.
In fact, many people think of hedge tress as nothing more than a nuisance.
Their oddly shaped branches contain sharp, spiny thorns that are hard on both humans and equipment.
Plus, once you cut down a hedge tree the stump quickly reproduces multiple thorny stems that grow vigorously to replace the existing tree.
Historically found in the Red River Valley of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas, the trees were planted by the millions for use as a natural wind barrier. These "hedgerows" were created to reduce soil erosion.
Native Americans cherished the wood for bow-making due to its strong yet pliable branches. The tree is commonly called "bodark" which is derived from a French word meaning "bow wood."
Now, besides firewood the tree is commonly used for fence posts because it can be buried in the ground for decades without rotting or being attacked by insects.
The heat produced from dry Osage orange wood has qualities often compared to coal. However, the wood actually burns so hot you can easily damage a wood stove if you're not careful.
Instead of burning strictly hedge, mix it with other popular hardwoods like ash, beech or maple firewood. This will allow you to capture all the great heating qualities of the wood without the fire becoming to intense.
Osage orange also sparks.......A LOT. The wood throws a shower of sparks described by many people as a fireworks show. This constant shower of hot sparks makes burning the wood in a open fireplace dangerous.
The dense wood is also hard on chainsaw chains. If you're going to go out and cut osage orange for a day, do yourself a favor and bring along 2 or 3 extra sharp chains. It will save you the aggravation of hand filing 1 chain all day trying to keep it sharp.
Split the wood while it's green. It splits okay when it's still wet but if you let it dry out and then try to split it.......forget it.......it's difficult to say the least.
Although many people say you can burn the wood when it's green, let the split firewood season for about 6-12 months for best results.
Producing 32.9 million BTU's of heat per cord, Osage orange is a remarkable firewood.
Although it may be a little more difficult to harvest compared to other types of firewood, the quality firewood you get in the end is definitely worth the extra trouble.