TexasEscapes.comTexas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1800 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : TEXAS HOTELS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP : : SEARCH SITE
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Bodark trees tough as nails

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
Few Great Plains trees have the mystique and history of the "bois d'arc" tree. Some call it Osage Orange, hedge, hedge apple, horse apple, mock orange or even Thorny Maclura Pomifera - its scientific name. Cowboys just said bodark.

In certain areas of Arkansas, Oklahoma and eastern Texas, the tree grows naturally, producing a wrinkled, bumpy apple that smells like oranges. Indians prized the strong yellow wood for the making of bows as in bow and arrow.

The thorny plant was once planted closely in rows to grow into a thorny hedge used as fencing for livestock. The idea worked great until grass and Russian thistles piled up in the hedge and then burned out during the frequent prairie fires thus killing the trees.

The bodark tree gained prominence again where on the bare prairies it was harvested for fence posts to build the new-fangled barbed-wire fences. A well cured bodark post can last for over 100 years unless destroyed by prairie fire.

During the hedge-row-fence fad, the horse apples were gathered in ricks to rot, then sliced into bits and pieces and washed in wooden troughs to separate the seed from the pulp. When the clean seed dried it sold for up to $45 per bushel to those planting hedgerow fences.

Bodark first came to the Panhandle from the north and east carried by settlers. Later the CCC workers planted thousands of the plants in windbreaks to help slow the dusty winds of the Dust Bowl. As cedar-post supplies began to dwindle the bodark and locust trees came into use.

The growth of bodark in the tree rows quickly showed that thinly planted trees will become twisted and crooked. Thickly planted rows had to grow upward to reach the sun and thus became straighter and stronger. Depending on the annual rainfall, a bodark tree row can be harvested for posts about every eight to ten years.

To thicken up a stand of mature bodark trees, merely use a root plow to make a deep cut between the rows where sprouts will quickly appear and grow into trees. The thicker the stand the straighter the trunks and limbs will grow.

Bodark not only makes good posts and dead-man-anchors, but if cut into blocks it makes long-lasting paving or sidewalk surface. Before concrete was available many frontier frame houses were built using bodark or cedar posts as foundations. I once remodeled an old ranch house at Goodnight which was believed to be more than 100 years old. The bodark stump foundation was firm as ever with very little rot.

Lore says to throw a number of bodark apples underneath the floors of your house to get rid of spiders and other pests. We tried it but noticed no difference. Maybe we did not use enough. Some elders swear it works.

I've read that bodark root bark produces a yellow dye prized by Indians. I do know that upper trunk bark of the tree produces tannin, used in tanning hides.

Personal experience has taught me to be prepared if you try to drive a fence staple into a bodark post. It is hard as iron.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" April 28, 2009 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.
Related Topics:
Texas Historic Trees
Texas Homes
Columns
Texas
Related Places:
Texas Panhandle
Texas Town List

 
HOME | TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE | TEXAS HOTELS
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES

Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS

TEXAS FEATURES
Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
Vintage Photos

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | HOTELS | USA | MEXICO

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
Website Content Copyright 1998-2008. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: January 9, 2010