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Osage Orange

Osage-orange (Maclura pomifera) produces no sawtimber, pulpwood, or utility poles, but it has been planted in greater numbers than almost any other tree species in North America. Known also as hedge, hedge-apple, bodark, bois-d'arc, bowwood, and naranjo chino, it made agricultural settlement of the prairies possible (though not profitable), led directly to the invention of barbed wire, and then provided most of the posts for the wire that fenced the West. The heartwood, bark, and roots contain many extractives of actual and potential value in food processing, pesticide manufacturing, and dyemaking.

Osage-orange heartwood is the most decay-resistant of all North American timbers and is immune to termites. The outer layer of sapwood is very thin; consequently, even small-diameter stems give long service as stakes and posts (40,43). About 3 million posts were sold annually in Kansas during the early 1970's. The branch wood was used by the Osage Indians for making bows and is still recommended by some archers today.