Telsie Fudge's magical
hedge-apple tree draws
By Ed Waggener
with information from Billy Joe Fudge, forester
It is such a magic sight-the little valley with ancient barns, guinea fowl, domestic turkey pens, Holstein calves grazing, and the huge Osage-orange, or hedge-apple tree-that folks are always stopping at Telsie Fudge's place on Toria Road, near Chestnut Grove, to take photographs.
It is not the biggest or the oldest Osage-orange (Maclura pomifera), tree in Adair County, but it seems to have the most character. It is captivating. And it has maintained its hold over succeeding generations.
"Willie Roach lived here years ago," Telsie Fudge says, "and he said that the tree was the same size ever since he could remember." And Ordell Fudge, Telsie's Uncle, says that the tree seemed to be as big today as it was 60 years ago.
Telsie Fudge is a timber man. He is self-employed and logs with his brother, Charles. He and his wife Marsha and son Brian came to the place in 1978, when they bought it from Bryant Realty. "The tree was always a favorite of kids," he said. The land was early in the hands of the Fudges and their ancestors. It once belonged to Telsie's great, great grandfather, Nimrod "Nim' Fudge.
Osage-orange trees do not yield sawtimber. The wood is not made into pulpwood. Even so, it is the most planted tree in America. It is a landscape favorite, and in the open western lands, it makes great windbreaks.
It has proven useful in other applications. The wood can be cut into fence posts. It is very hard, almost steel-like in character. "If you put a chainsaw to it the night, and push it, sparks will light up the dark like fireworks or a welding torch," B.J. Fudge says.
Junior Walker, who lives near the intersection of Toria Road and the Burkesville Road, has made handles from the wood, and has used lengths of it for restorations such as a recent one he did on an antique sewing machine he bought at an Amish auction. "You just have to take it easy," Walker says.
According to Billy Joe Fudge, the tree does have merchantable value."The roots, bark, and heartwood have value in manufacturing. They are used in dyemaking, food processing, and in making dyes," he said.
The "magic" in the Telsie Fudge hedge-apple is real. Lance Burton, the world's greatest magician and Adair County's most famous entertainer, is the grandson of Hattie Lee Akin, who was a sister to Edd Janes, who was the great-great uncle of Telsie Fudge.
Besides the interesting, rugged child-fascinating character of the trees, the fruits, which can weigh as much as two pounds and may be as much as six inches in diameter, make good missiles. Our oldest son loved to plunk the giant Lincoln County hedge-apples into St. Asaph's Creek in downtown Stanford. Indeed, the love of hedge-apple plunking is said to have proved pivotal in a land condemnation suit for the Cumberland Parkway construction in a nearby county. The landowner claimed "sentiment" as the reason the land was worth so much more than the Commmonwealth offered. "Not that it means so much to me," the property owner said, "but the churren love that tree. They like the hedge-apples. They like to throw them at each other." The jury understood, and awarded a generous multiple of the State's offer.
According to Emma Woody, who grew up in the German settlement of Ottenheim in Lincoln County, hedge-apples are useful around the house, particularly in basements, because they ward off spiders. It makes sense that this is so, from what Billy Joe Fudge says about its use in making pesticides.
Fudge says that other names the tree goes by include bodark (from bois d'arc), bowwood, and even less commonly, naranjo chino.
1997-05-05 - Photo Staff. Logger Telsie Fudge and his hedge-apple tree.This item first appeared in Issue 13 of the print edition of Columbia! Magazine.
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