Friday, February 03, 2006


Tank(s) for the memories

By The Erudite Redneck

In ninth grade, Mr. B had us collect, mount and identify 20 leaves for a collection, for a possible 100 points, each leaf and description counting for five points.

He was a hard taskmaster, Mr. B was. If ANYTHING was incorrect or incomplete about an entry, off went the whole five points.

Which is why, when, I took a leaf from one of this pair of trees, wrote out a description and labeled it "Bodark," I got docked 5 points.

The correct spelling, and alternative names for this tree, which produces wood good for fence posts and fruit good for nothing, is?

(Photos by ER at the ER homeplace, eastern Oklahoma.)


I loved MR B. I had a big crush
on him. I had him for 3 classes
before I got out of high school.
Thanks for the memories brought
back. I like the pictures too.
Would you be referring to bois d'arc by any chance?

Great pictures.
Bois d'arc; Osage orange; hedge apple.

The fruit IS good for something. It is a natural repellant of roaches and other bugs.
Here in illinois, the deer eat the fruit during the winter months.
I've got no perspective - how big are those pieces of fruit? The size of apples?
Sometimes know as the "Horsie Apple".
The Bois d'arc (Maclura Pomifera) is one of my favorite trees. They were prolific in the tree rows planted on the Western plains where I grew up. Out in Tillman county they were planted in the tree rows that were supposed to decrease wind erosian after the 1930's dust bowl.
The Bodark was named for the fact that it was used to make the bows of the Indians in Arkansas Oklahoma Kansas Nebraska etc.. It was actually a trade item as far back as the Missippian Mound culture. I have a bow stave up in my studio ready to carve down to a bow. I have even taken a class to do so. So it is on my agenda, along with several dozen other projects. Lewis and Clark were the first to gather seeds of the Osage Orange and send them back to Jefferson who planted some on his farm at Monticello. He thought they would be useful as European type Hedges to keep in livestock in that their needles along and sharp as I can personally attest. It took so long for the scientific part of their journals to be published that they got no credit for finding it at all. A dude named MacLurer put his name on it.
The seeds are god to eat but take so much work to get them out of that sticly ball that they are hardly worth the effort. Squirrels love them however.
Horses also like them (thus another name Horse Apple) and the Indians sometimes harvested them for use as winter forage. The Pawnee would keep a stash of them in their earth lodges along with their horses and that is where the insect repellant value of the fruit was discovered.
The prime use of Bodark in my youth was as fence post. They just wouldn't rot. But logs big enough to split always split crooked a twisted, and the wood was so hard, that to drive a wire steeple into them was dangerous to the fingers. My Dad always had an extra bunch of Bodark fence post and he would stack them up like a teepee to keep them clean and dry.
Great fun to play under them.
If I recall correctly, they're a bit smaller than a softball. Pretty hard too. The sibs and I were known to chuck them at one another back when we lived in northern VA.
Rem870, Fruit size would be 3 to 5 inches wide. Thorns were 2 to 4 inches. Trees 8 to 25 feet high, and 8 to 25 feet wide. Wood is a light yellow with dark brown streaks. No such thing as Bodark lumber, too twisted and crocked and too hard.
We grew up thinking those things were poison so we wouldn't touch them except to throw at people.

I wrote a story about an apple tree that wouldn't bear fruit over at my new blog

Last night while tryinmg to get into my blog, I stumbled across a mention of my blog over at the Huffington Post. errrg
They are poison. You wouldn't want to eat one -- hence their effectiveness as a pesticide.
They're also called horse apples, and Osage orange.

These were about the size of grapefruit.

They are good for a little amusing distraction when brush-hogging! :-)
Oh -- BTW, you say "bowdark" -- up north we had a different local monicker, "bowdot." But we knew how to spell it because there's a creek called "Bois d'Arc" which is a tributary to the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River. There's a community (not incorporated) along the creek we referred to as "Bowdot."
Trixie they are not poisoness to animals or Humans just insects. In fact in nature, like tomatoes, an Osage Orange seed has to pass through the stomach of an animal before it can germinate. It needs to be "scarified" to weaken the seed's shell so it can break through when genminated.
Oh, thanks Mrs. Wheezer!

And oops, Trixie I see you had given the Osage orange moniker.
My mom and I would go huntin' them around old homesteads in town when I was a widdle girl. I loved them because they were so funny looking and they smelled like nothing else on earth. (You gotta remember, as a 4-year-old girl I also had a horny toad as a pet, so I was in to the "unusual.")

That fruit, is it anything like a pomegranate? (Common projectile used by young boys).

Hey, I believe that's the first photo I've ever seen of the rich soil that produced ya.
They look like green brains, sort of. And they ooze a sticky "milk."
I shoulda known Wikipedia would have an article on 'em!
Another use for the osage orange is that bowmakers (as in bow and arrow) like to use their wood for their craft.

And, for us, Green Brain Tree is what we called them growing up.
Several bows have been made from the tree to the left of the fuel tank.
Said Mrs. Wheezer : "The sibs and I were known to chuck them at one another back when we lived in northern VA."

GP said : "That fruit, is it anything like a pomegranate? (Common projectile used by young boys)."

Talk about memories! When they are green they are as hard as a softball as someone said before. So they are a bit worse that pomegrnantes which I have fought with in Southern California.
But this brought to mind the Spring time ritual of Clod Fighting, and all the glory and defeats that such brought during my younger days.
Any old Clod Fighters out there?
Did anyone metioned that they also went by the name of Pig Brains?
The more I think of it, the more I'm sure Clod Fighting was the original Redneck Paint Ball.
I definitely was a Clod Fighter in my neighborhood. Seems like I remember my dad laughing at me when he asked what I was doing and I told him I was chunking dirt clod rocks at the brat down the street.
I chucked some clods at a nephew or two -- about-the-same-age-as-me nephews, I mean.
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