Saturday, October 24, 2015

9 Amazing Facts About the Osage Orange Tree

The Osage Orange is a beautiful tree with a  fascinating story.

1.  The seeds of the Osage Orange tree are designed to be spread by an extinct North American Megafauna.  No living animal can fully digest the fruit of the Osage Orange.  Scientists think an extinct North American camel or ground sloth digested the fruit 10,000 years ago and spread the seeds.
Once common throughout the Southeast United States, its range had shrunk to just a stretch of land around Texas and neighboring states when Europeans arrived due to the extinction of its primary seed disperser.

2.  The Native Americans highly prized the wood for making bows.  Meriwether Lewis said the Osage Indians, who gave their name to the tree, traveled hundreds of miles to find it.

3.  Its wood is the densest of all the trees, which is not surprising since it must support its numerous 3-5" two pound fruit.

4.  In the age before barbed wire, the trees were planted to create living fences .  The thorny limbs of the trees, planted in a row, would be weaved together to form an implementable wall to keep livestock in and predators out.

5.  Since the wood is amazingly resistance to pests and rotting, it was popular for barbed wire fence posts.

6. Its distinctive yellow-orange colored wood can be used to make a dye.

7.  The wood burns at the highest temperature of all trees.

8.  Although its botanical name is Maclura pomifera, it is also called bois d'arc (French for "wood of the  bow"), or a corruption of that, bowdark or bodark.  Its fruit is also called a horse apple or hedge apple.

9.  The trees are male or female.  Only the female trees produce fruit.

Squirrels eat the seeds, but are not ideal seed dispersers
Bonus Fact:  The Osage Orange tree can live to be 400 years old.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Very interesting! We called these "bodarc" trees growing up in Missouri. Had no idea why until now.

Also, the fruit we called "monkey balls." No idea why. As teenage boys, we often got into "monkey ball" fights.