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An allée of pleached trees in the Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy
A hedge created by pleaching in Wales, UK

The verb is from Late Middle English pleshe, Middle English plechen, pleche (to layer; to propagate (a plant) by layering, to pleach),[1] possibly from Anglo-Norman and Middle French plesser, plessier, Middle French plescer, variants of Middle French, Old French plaissier, plessier (to plash),[2] from Late Latin *plaxus, from Latin plexus (braided, plaited, woven; bent, twisted), perfect passive participle of plectō (to braid, plait, weave; to bend, turn, twist),[3] ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *pleḱ- (to fold, plait, weave).

The noun is derived from the verb.[4]



pleach (third-person singular simple present pleaches, present participle pleaching, simple past and past participle pleached)

  1. (transitive) To unite by interweaving, as (horticulture) branches of shrubs, trees, etc., to create a hedge; to interlock, to plash.
    Synonyms: entwine, interlace, plait
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene ii], page 92, column 2:
      Her Vine, the merry chearer of the heart, / Vnpruned, dyes: her Hedges euen pleach'd, / Like Priſoners wildly ouer-growne with hayre, / Put forth diſorder'd Twigs: [...]
      Her [France's] vine [i.e. grapevines which produce wine], the merry cheerer of the heart / Unpruned, dies; her hedges, though [once] evenly pleached, / Like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair, / Put forth disordered twigs; [...]
    • 1818, John Keats, “Book III”, in Endymion: A Poetic Romance, London: [] [T. Miller] for Taylor and Hessey, [], OCLC 1467112, lines 932–935, page 149:
      Nectar ran / In courteous fountains to all cups outreach'd; / And plunder'd vines, teeming exhaustless, pleach'd / New growth about each shell and pendent lyre; [...]
    • 1868, “Osage Hedges”, in Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture for the Year 1868, Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, published 1869, OCLC 5814386, page 255:
      The season in which to pleach is not when the hedge is growing, but in the fall, between the falling of the leaves and the time when winter sets in. Osage thorn hedge should not be pleached during severe freezing weather, but pleaching may be done in mild weather, when there is but little frost in the wood, and in the winter in southern latitudes. In the northern belt, where the Osage thorn thrives, which is as far north as southern Wisconsin, it is not safe to pleach in winter.
    • 1878 September 21, “How Their Gardens Grow in North America”, in Charles Dickens, Jr., editor, All the Year Round, A Weekly Journal. [...] With which is Incorporated Household Words]], volume XXI, number 512 (New Series), London: Published at No. 26, Wellington Street; and by Messrs. Chapman & Hall, [], OCLC 781591950, page 271, column 1:
      [I]n Messina, he pleaches Leonato's bower with honeysuckle; [...]
    • 1908 July 22, “Radymadasy” [pseudonym], “Queries. [The Dialect of Shropshire.]”, in Bye-gones: Relating to Wales and the Border Counties, volume X (New Series), Oswestry, Shropshire; Wrexham, Denbighshire: Woodall, Minshall, Thomas and Co.; London: Elliot Stock [], OCLC 151039813, page 260, column 1:
      In the southern and western districts of the county [Shropshire], a hatchet used by farmers and gardeners is called a "brummuck." [...] "Pleaching" hedges, a task needing much skill, is done with brummucks.
    • 1910 September 10, “The Open Life. Birds of the Lakes and Meres.”, in The Outlook: A Weekly Review of Politics, Art, Literature, and Finance, volume XXVI, number 658, London: The Outlook Publishing Company, OCLC 78868886, page 361, column 2:
      Here the reed warblers swing their dainty cradle, rocked by every gust which sways the tall reeds which they cunningly pleach and plait into its fragile sides, but woven deep enough to guard their tiny green and brown marbled eggs from accident.
    • 2014, Samantha Harvey, Dear Thief, London: Jonathan Cape, →ISBN; republished London: Vintage Books, 2015, →ISBN, page 59:
      You finish your A levels, you are so busy discovering yourself that you forget to go to college or get a vocation, you start working in a pub, and, when your best and only friend leaves town, you become a loner and invest yourself in things that rely little on the company of others, like pleaching willow and learning how to slum it comfortably under the stars, and singing.

Derived terms[edit]



pleach (plural pleaches)

  1. An act or result of interweaving; specifically, (horticulture) a hedge or lattice created by interweaving the branches of shrubs, trees, etc.
    Synonym: plash
    • 1859, Leander Clark, “Elesta”, in Kenridge Hall, and Other Poems, Washington, D.C.: Published by Franklin Philp; Tho[ma]s McGill, printer, OCLC 10077943, stanza 2, page 6:
      Not a dryad of the beeches, / Through the filmy forest-reaches, / That a tress of summer pleaches, / But had owned her queen; [...]
  2. (horticulture) A branch of a shrub, tree, etc., used for pleaching; a pleacher.
    • 1821, Francis Blaikie, “Cutting of Hedges Continued”, in A Treatise on the Management of Hedges, and Hedge-row Timber, new edition, London: Printed [by Mowlett and Brimmer] for John Harding, [], OCLC 29849098, page 41:
      These stems should be stripped (or nearly so) of their branches, and notched at the bottom (in the way which every hedger knows) to form a pleach: these pleaches should be laid in the intervals along the line of the stubs, and again notched, [...]
    • 1934, T[homas] Hennell, “Hedges and Ditches”, in Change in the Farm, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: At the University Press, OCLC 210979954; 2nd edition, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: At the University Press, 1936, OCLC 750848777, page 40:
      The pleaches are laid over all in the same direction and stakes are driven in so as to come alternately behind and in front of the stems laid over, but the ends of the pleaches are made to finish all on one side, that is to say, on the opposite side of the hedge to the notches. [...] The hedger treads down his pleaches so as to make a firm and solid hedge and winds round the tops of the stakes long, clean rods of hazel, [...]
  3. (horticulture) A notch cut into a branch so that it can be bent when pleaching is carried out.
    • 2007, Holly Kerr Forsyth, “Hedges”, in The Constant Gardener: A Botanical Bible, Carlton, Vic.: The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University Publishing, →ISBN, page 221:
      Traditional hedge laying involves, first, clearing away undergrowth and weeds, particularly from a hedge that has been neglected and allowed to grow tall. Untidy side branches are removed. A cut, known as a pleach, is made in the back of the trunk, leaving a 'hinge'; old-time hedgers recommend that this should be as thick as a lamb's tongue.
    • 2009, Tony Atkins, “Unrestrained and Restrained Workplaces: Dynamic Cutting”, in The Science and Engineering of Cutting: The Mechanics and Processes of Separating, Scratching and Puncturing Biomaterials, Metals and Non-metals, Oxford, Oxfordshire; Amsterdam: Butterworth-Heinemann, →ISBN, section 10.1 (Introduction), page 245:
      When laying hedges, notches (pleaches) are cut in branches that are to be bent (the bent bits must go upwards, otherwise the sap will not run).



  1. ^ plē̆chen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 12 April 2019.
  2. ^ pleach, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2006; “pleach, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ plash, v.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2006; “plash2, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  4. ^ pleach, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2006.

Further reading[edit]