[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

TT: Osage-orange

I know the tree to which Professor Russell refers, and it is a magnificent
one.  It is the largest Osage-orange I've seen, though it is not the
champion.  Osage-orange is an abundant tree here in the Bluegrass, but
rarely reaches the size of the Fort Harrod tree.

Osage-orange has an interesting history.  Its modern range is a result of
community forestry, hence appropriate for this list.  The original range is
not really known, though Elbert Little, the former US Dendrologist, placed
it in a narrow corridor in east Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas (the map is on
my web site, see below). Long before Europeans arrived, Native Americans had
realized the great utility of Osage-orange wood for making bows.  Its great
strength and flexibility make it ideal for archers.  Osage-orange then began
its travels, with Native Americans planting it far outside its original

European settlers saw a different use for the tree.  Osage-orange is easy to
transplant from cuttings or seeds, and it thorns and dense branching make it
an ideal "living fence."  Very quickly, Osage-orange was spread throughout
the midwest, and quickly became naturalized, especially along hedgerows and
in bottoms.

In Kentucky, I suspect that Osage-orange was already here before European
settlers.  The tree at Fort Harrod must have been planted soon after
settlement, and as Prof. Russell pointed out, this was the first settlement
west of the Alleghenies.

For more on Osage-orange, see the account at
http://quercus.uky.edu/treeweb/species/mapomi.htm .

Tom Kimmerer
Forest Biologist
University of Kentucky
Lexington KY 40546-0073
Fax 606-323-1031
Visit the TreeWeb at http://quercus.uky.edu