Monday, September 18, 2017

The Bois d'Arc Tree

One can only imagine what this tree has seen and heard in it's lifetime. On this plot of land where it's spread it's roots and branches it may have seen the building of a military installation to guard settlers from angry Indian attacks. Later it probably witnessed the construction of one of central Arkansas' oldest buildings, the Arsenal Building, where munitions for the military post were stored. It watched soldiers from both the North and the South during the civil war. It was nearby when Douglas MacArthur was born in a nearby building. MacArther would become General of the United States Army during WWII and most of the Korean War. Through it's long life it has witnessed so much history.

This is a Bois d'Arc tree which means "wood of the bow" in reference to the Osage Indians practice of making bows and war clubs from the tree's wood. It has others names as well: Osage Orange, Horse Apple and Hedge Apple, which refers to the fruit of the tree.

The Good

This is my favorite tree. Any time I'm near, I stop and take more pictures. As I was taking pictures a gentleman from the nearby museum came out to replace two of the flags that are at the Veteran's Memorial. I stood watching him through the branches. It was a touching moment to see the flags raised in honor of fallen soldiers.

The Random
I've never found another tree that has such fascinating bark. It has wonderful texture and color in the deep swirls and crisscrosses of it's gnarled wood. The bark also contains tannin and was once used for tanning leather. The heartwood is bright orange. I could spend hours studying the bark and roots. Some of the roots are above ground and are at least 12" high. 

The Fun

The wood of Bois d'Arc trees is quite valuable due to it's density, which makes it suitable for everything from fence posts to artistic woodcarving. And one last fun fact, the fruit of the tree repels numerous insects, including spiders and cockroaches. This is certainly an interesting and useful tree! I'm looking forward to going back in a few weeks to see it covered in autumn color.

Let’s take our hearts for a walk in the woods
and listen to the magic whispers of old trees.
~Author Unknown

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