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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,