Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Osage Orange Tree (Harrodsburg, KY)


George and I love to travel on the 'back roads' in our country. In March of 2007, in order to celebrate George's birthday, we drove to Indiana to visit all of the waterfalls in Clifty Falls State Park. On the way home, while on the back roads, we drove through a neat town called Harrodsburg, Kentucky. This town is Kentucky's first settlement. When we passed by Fort Harrod, we turned around and decided to check out the fort. While there, we saw a huge tree, called an Osage Orange Tree. This tree's crown is 98' X 106'; its height is 75'; its circumference of the tree standing is 12'4"; and its base circumference is 56'. Woooooo!! This tree is taller and broader than the "National Champion" (which can be found on Patrick Henry's 'Red Hill' grounds)---but remains the unofficial National Champion due to the split trunk.

Of course, when we got home, I had to do some research on this interesting tree. Here is some info on the Osage Orange tree:
Named for the Osage tribe, of Missouri, where its dense wood was used for their bows, the tree was actually native to Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The Osage orange became popular in the east after the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1803-1806. Also called "hedge plant" or "hedge apple," the thorny Osage orange grew into fence rows that were "pig tight, horse high, and bull strong" before the invention of barbed wire.

Probably the most noticeable feature of Osage orange is the fruit produced by female trees. (The one we saw was a male.) The yellow-green fruit is round and 3 to 5 inches in diameter. It resembles a large orange or a monstrous mulberry. The fruit is a dense, round cluster of many one-seeded pulp sacks.

Osage orange isn't an orange tree. It's actually a mulberry. Today, Osage orange grows everywhere south of the Great Lakes and north of Florida, across the whole of eastern North America into the Great Plains states, almost to the Rocky Mountains. Other naturalized populations are found along Western settlement trails, forts and settler locations in the Pacific Northwest. Osage orange has been bundled and dragged across the nation -- east to west and north to south -- because of its uniqueness and utility. It has traveled widely and has been a part of our history. Above and below are pictures.





A partial picture of this HUGE tree; We were there in March--so obviously, there were no leaves on the tree.





I took this picture from the internet---to show how much better the tree looks when there are leaves on it!!!! (I have no idea who that child is---but I'm sure he'll be thrilled to be on my blog!!!! ha)






These next two pictures also came from the internet. This is a 'female' Osage Orange tree. See the fruit hanging up there? Don't be standing under these trees when those 'things' fall!!!! You would need to wear a hard hat I'm sure!!! ha






This is what the fruit (if you call it that) looks like. All I can say is YUK!!!!!





I was so fascinated with this unique tree... Isn't it interesting?





George stands under the tree---and as you can see, he is ready for battle.





Do you see a 'tree-hugger' there???? This girl loves this tree!!!!! Can she take it home???? PUH-LEASE!





I leave you with a photo of the outside of Old Fort Harrod. I'll show you the inside of this interesting fort in another blog. Hope you enjoyed seeing the Osage Orange tree today! Oh how wonderful it is to drive on the 'back roads'!!!! One will never know what he/she will see!!!!

Hugs,

57 comments:

Kallen305 said...

What a cool looking tree, it's massive. I love the way the osage fruit looks. It does indeed look like oranges.

Femin Susan said...

That tree looks marvelous like the look of the Osage fruit.
cheers!

Jayne said...

That's just amazing Betsy. Thanks for taking us along to see it!

The Incredible Woody said...

Oh, how I would love to play on that tree! What fun!

I'm a lover of back roads, too. The best trips are when there is no destination - just a journey!

Arkansas Patti said...

Thanks so much for the info on the tree that tries to impale me when I mow. Very impressive thorns. I have 2 small(I guess males) on my fence line.
Love to do what I call "tank of gas" trips off the main highways. Lots of cool stuff out there to see. Great pictures and thanks for the road trip. Am looking foward to the fort visit.

T said...

I love trees like that (we don't have to many around here - surbia tends to "do away" with wonderful, big trees for the sake of "growth").

Wonderful pictures Betsy!

fishing guy said...

Betsy: We had one growing next door but the guy didn't like the dropping from the tree. I remember them from childhood and the fruit is hard as a rock and good for throwing just not at a person.

Harriet said...

Thanks for sharing. I've never heard of this tree.

Jen said...

Yep we have those around here, but none that large!
It does produce a beautiful wood too.

Peggy said...

I learned something new today. Thanks!

ROSIDAH said...

Ah, that is the meaning of 'back roads'. Huge tree with great story! Wonderful photos. Thank you for sharing. I'll be back for the inside story of Old Fort Harrod.

Hugs from Indonesia :)

Diane C. said...

Wonderful big old tree! Interesting to see pictures of it with and without leaves and the weird looking fruit. I love the "tree-hugger" photo!

TheWritersPorch said...

I know these trees! The thorns once caused me a nasty infection. You can not get rid of them !
We called the fruit horse apples when we were kids and played basesball with them.
This tree is actually beautiful though!

Kathleen said...

What a tree!!
The kid in me would love it!
Happy Tuesday!

Shellmo said...

that tree is enormous!! Wow! You got some great photos of it! I'm not sure if I'd want it in my backyard if there was a big storm - I think it would take the whole cabin out! LOL!

Darla said...

Now that's a tree!

Becky said...

I enjoy my travels through your blog.

That is a cool tree!

Mildred said...

Very interesting Betsy! Thanks for sharing; you've certainly traveled to some interesting places. Have a nice day.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

What a fascinating tree.I would have taken tons of photos,I too love trees.
Blessings,Ruth

Thoughtfully blended hearts said...

...great post Betsy...I do enjoy "traveling" with you...
the "fruit" of the Osage Orange truly is "awful"...I had some neighbors who had these across the fenceline from their backyard...they paid my son to get rid of them ..you certainly can't mow over them...and they're full of a milky like sticky fluid....ugggghhhh they're terrible to have in your yard.

Susie said...

You are so right Betsy, you never know what you'll see on those wonderful country roads. Love this tree! It is so amazing!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love that tree too...it deserves a bunch of hugs for being so old and so large. I hope to ONE day have the time to travel more back roads and see all this country has to offer!!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

I DO enjoy traveling the back roads with you and George, Betsy. That's a huge tree. The first time I ever saw an osage orange tree was in upstate New York. I had to do research to find out what it was.

Cicero Sings said...

What an interesting tree! You too do make tracks!!! ... and see the most interesting stuff.

Connie said...

I've never seen a tree like that. I like it. My friend owns a daycare. I'm going to suggest she put a tree like that on the playground. I know the kids would love it.

Smilingsal said...

Thanks for taking me along.

Pigeon said...

Living on Mulberry Road, I should I should plant one of those! That is one neat tree.

Betty said...

That is an amazing tree.I have never seen one that I know of,if they do grow in the Pacific Northwest I will have to look for one.I will let you know if I find one.
~~Hugs~~

Bird Girl said...

Yes, that is a really neat big old tree! We do have a few scattered across PA! The fruit sort of look like a brain ;-) Many of the old timers lined the fruit up across their foundations (basement ledges) and this is said to keep spiders out??? Who knows if that is true! Neat post, Betsy!

Deborah Godin said...

That truly is the most incredible tree!! And I loved learning all the botanical history (right word?) about it!!

Pam said...

I just found your blog this morning, and I have enjoyed my visit- love reading about that wonderful tree.
I always like to find other Tennessee bloggers, and look forward to visiting again soon!
Blessings,
Pam

Pat - Arkansas said...

You and George find a lot of very interesting things on your travels. That is one BIG tree!

A dried thorn from an Osage Orange can pierce a tire. How do I know? :)

Mary said...

What huge trees! I see the fruit on the ground from time to time...we have always called them hedgeapples...but never have seen such huge trees! I read on the intenet that squirrels like the fruit so last year and went and got a couple....but my squirrels did not show any interest whatsoever!

Small City Scenes said...

Don't we live in such a wonderful and diverse country. Beauty everywhere.
The state of Washington is full of everything one would want to see. We have some of the highest mountains in the US. Some are still active volcanoes. Mt, Rainier is over 14,000 feet and active. Of course Mt. St.Helens decided to blow her topp in the 80s and still puffs occasionally. We have deserts and sand dunes too, and ocean and huge rivers. The North Cascade Range is called the North American Alps. It is largely awild and senic destination. I had better not go on or you will think I am the chamber of commerce. LOL
MB

Cedar ... said...

Wow, a blast from the past! My X and I stayed in Harrodsburg, KY on our honeymoon way back from Nashville back in 1961. Well, at least the tree lasted! hee hee.....

Clara....in TN said...

WOW, what a tree. I love it too!!!!

Natalie said...

We will have to go check this out since it is not too far from us. We have been to Fort Boonesborough but not Fort Harrod yet. I love to take back roads too but Jeff would rather drie the interstate.

Beth said...

That is quite an amazing tree, Betsy. I can certainly see why that little boy enjoyed playing on it---it looks like it was made for climbing!

Thanks for taking us along on your back road trip! I, too, love back roads best.

Janie said...

I've seen these when we lived in the south, but never one so large. Great tree with plenty of character. I'm a tree hugger too!:)

Rosa said...

That's some tree! We call them monkey brains. I love collecting them in the fall and putting them in a big bowl. I've even seen plastic ones in stores lately! Go figure!!!

Wren said...

I'd seen the fruit and knew it wasn't a true orange, but had no idea it was related to mulberries. Now that I know that, I can see some resemblance.

ChrisC and JonJ said...

What an interesting tree.I've heard of them.I just never realized they weren't an "orange" tree before.

Leedra said...

Wonderful post. Reminded me of the very large magnolia trees we used to play on. The limbs were all over the ground and we would go through an opening and be hid from the world in there. Don't see magnolias like that anymore. Not to say the magnolias were anywhere close to this size, it just reminded me of the fun we had with them.

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Diane said...

It sure does look like George's ready for battle. Thanks for the info on the Osage Orange. Just for your info: A tree blew down over by our part of the creek a couple years ago. The city finally got around to taking the stump out and to the dump yesterday. Do you know what the stump weighed? 11,000 lbs!

Tootie said...

You said you posted about a tree today, so I came to check it out. :-) I was surprised to see a hedge apple tree. I'm familiar with those, because I was raised on the same farm where my Father was born, in MO. His Father had them for fence rows. They had been pulled out, over the years, but there were still some on our farm. Just in the past few years, I was told that placing the hedge apples here and there, around the outside of your house, would keep spiders out. I haven't tested that theory myself, so don't know if it is true. An interesting post, Betsy. Enjoy visiting your family.

Kristen said...

Those trees are so cool looking!!

Rose said...

Oh, man! I would have loved that tree as a kid...especially with the leaves on.

I will let you bring it home if you will share it with me!

Rose said...

This may be a repeat...I posted this once but I don't see it....go to his post of November 1, 2008. I knew I had seen your tree before and thought it was from him but couldn't find it at first.

Judy said...

Hi Betsy, I live about 35 minutes from Harrodsburg and Fort Harrod. It is such an interesting place to visit. Can you believe Harrodsburg was the gateway to the west back in the 1700's. I guess every child in Kentucky has their picture on that tree. I have a video of Thomas Wyatt last year exploring it at one year old! My first visit to Fort Harrod was in the 5th grade. That has been a long time ago.

Carla said...

I love to go exploring on the back roads also.

And that is an amazing tree!

Aleta said...

I knew someone who called the Osage Orange tree fruit "monkey balls", for unknown reasons. As a child, he and his friends would play some kind of game with them - hitting them with sticks.

Great pictures! Looks like Fort Harrod will be added onto my list of places to visit. I love historic places!

Aleta said...

I knew someone who called the Osage Orange tree fruit "monkey balls", for unknown reasons. As a child, he and his friends would play some kind of game with them - hitting them with sticks.

Great pictures! Looks like Fort Harrod will be added onto my list of places to visit. I love historic places!

Daisy said...

Very interesting tree, Betsy! Cool post. I can see why you want to take it home with you. :)

Gena said...

How wonderful! I love that tree and a REAL LIFE FORT!!! I am soooo jealous!

Kevin Foster said...

Osage Orange is called hedge or hedge apple here in the sw part of Missouri (ozarks). I believe the reason it's called Osage 'Orange' is because of the color of the wood and roots - both are bright orange. Something tears the hedge apples apart and takes the seeds. Nothing will eat the fruit that I know of - not even pigs.

There are fence posts 6-10 in diameter on my farm that my grandfather or great grandfather cut and put into the ground.

I've read that there's an old wives tale that a hedge apple under your bed keeps the bugs away. Spread the juice from the fruit on you and it will keep mosquitoes away - at least as well as deet!

Very useful tree - but terrible to work with. It's thorns are ruthless, though not as long as Black Locust thorns (which we also have here).

The wood has more BTUs than any other wood in North America. It burns hot and long. Also - you don't have to dry it - there is very little sap wood, nearly all is heartwood.

Just thought you might like to know some more about this amazing tree.

Kevin Foster

Betsy Adams said...

Thank You, Kevin, for all of that great info... I tried to catch up with you--but couldn't find an email or a way to reach you.... I really enjoyed reading more about the Osage Orange... I have heard it called the hedge apple...

Please come back to my blog anytime. I added you to my Google+ list.

Thanks again,
Betsy

karen watson-sooy said...

Hello, I stumbled across your blog while looking up the "giant tree in Harrodsburg, Ky" I wanted to show one of my kids where we used to go when we lived in Wilmore, Ky. We used to take them there quite a bit to run and climb and burn off energy. It is a beatiful tree! Thanks for the pics! I never thought to take pictures when we lived there..great memories of such a happy time. thanks for sharing! Karen