Osage Orange: The Wonder Wood of the American Plains

By | June 27, 2018

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Drive along a backcountry road in the fall in the most states, and you will likely see Osage oranges littering the road. The large, green, knobby balls look nothing like the typical oranges we are used to seeing, and indeed, they are not related to the citrus fruit at all. In fact, you wouldn’t want to eat the Osage oranges. Even though the Osage oranges are not edible, the knobby fruit and wood from the tree itself served several important functions to Native Americans and pioneer settlers to the Great Plains. So helpful was the tree that it was spread by settlers who planted the tree across the country, expanding its range from Texas, Louisiana, Missouri and Arkansas to almost all parts of the country. Osage orange was truly the wonder wood of the American Plains. Here’s why. 

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Dense and Hard

The wood of the Osage orange tree is one of the hardest, strongest and densest of all the hardwoods. It has a higher BTU than white oak, hickory, and dogwood, so it burned hotter and longer…ideal for pioneers during the brutal Plains winters.