This native north american tree is still fairly common in our area. Unique enough to have been allowed to go on growing in many areas but messy enough to keep todays homeowners from planting anew it is fairly well known in these parts.
I have read that this tree grew originally only in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
First native americans then later farmers spread the osage orange tree across the plains states. The wood is very hard and rot resistant making it useful for bows,utensils,tools and other wooden items. The farmer grew hedges of osage orange that were thick and tall with thorns which kept in livestock. Then found further use for the trees wood as fence posts that seemed to last forever when barbed wired took over as fencing and the hedges were cut down.
Some wildlife, like squirrels, find the seed of osage orange quite tasty.The seeds are said to be edible by humans as well but are hard to extract.The pulp and other parts are not to be eaten.
For more information...
Selecting Trees For Your Home UIUC
Osage Orange, Hedgeapple/Maclura pomifera
Missouri Conservationist Osage
Osage orange is the best native wood for fence posts. It is one of the heaviest woods in North America and rates at the top for resistance to weathering. Anti-fungal and anti-oxidant compounds that protect the wood from decay have been identified in the heartwood. The outer sapwood is thin, so even small-diameter posts have a high proportion of heartwood. Osage orange posts set 50 years ago are still standing strong.
And lots of pictures...
The tree's native range was a small area in western Arkansas, southern Oklahoma and parts of east Texas. But early explorers, like Marquette and Joliet, did find the trees growing near Osage Indian villages. And it was from the branch wood of the Osage orange tree that the Indians made their highly prized bows.
How To Build A Bow .
Osage Orange/Maclura pomifera ...
Dioecious - having unisexual reproductive units with male and female plants occurring on different individuals;
they are either gynoecious (female plants) or androecious (male plants).
Female plants that occur without male plants near, produce seedless fruits.
Males do not produce fruit only pollen.
Maclura pomifera/Osage Orange is wind pollinated.
Osage Orange-form in winter
Todays post inspired by Defining Your Home Garden