The 'green orange' tree


The citrus-smelling, lime green fruit of the Osage Orange tree. The citrus-smelling, lime green fruit of the Osage Orange tree. Some people like this tree, others just think it's messy. Particularly when it is dropping its big, round, lime green fruits in the fall. The bumpy surface of the fruit makes it look like brains, and it smells citrusy, hence one of its names - the Osage Orange.

The Osage Orange is native to Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma, but has been naturalized through most of the U.S. and Canada.

This is a medium-sized tree that grows 26 to 60 feet tall. Its size and short trunk make it a perfect tree for windbreaks. I n 1 9 3 4 President Roosevelt initiated the "Great Plains Shelterbelt" WPA project to modify the weather and prevent soil erosion in the Great Plains states.

The Osage Orange tree was the tree of choice for the windbreaks. By 1942 30,233 shelterbelts had been planted. They included 220 million trees, stretching for 18,600 miles. The use of the tree along windbreaks gave it another nickname, the hedge apple.

The Osage Orange has sharp thorns on its branches, which made it popular with ranchers as fencing for cattle before barbed wire was available. Afterwards, the hard wood of the tree was used for fence posts.

The tree is also called a "bois d'arc", which means "bow wood." The French settlers saw the Native Americans use the wood for war clubs and bows. The wood is so good for making bows, that many claim it superior to English Yew.

The fruit also has its uses. It has been known to deter spiders, cockroaches, and fleas.

El Camino Real Master Naturalists are looking for the largest Osage Orange in Milam County. If you think you have the biggest tree, then nominate it. Download a form from the website: http://grovesite. com/tmn/ecrmn/bigtrees, or pick up a hardcopy at the AgriLife Extension Office in Cameron.

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2009-11-12 digital edition

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