Osage orange is found in and around Hannibal. Some very aged trees used as a property/wind break on what used to be my great grandfather’s farm in neighboring Rensselaer were uprooted in this summer’s mini-tornado. The root systems were as large as the tops of most trees around here.
Osage orange trees are found in St. Louis, also. My husband, who is ‘the friend’ in the following poem, had a great story:
The Osage orange fruit is quite large and quite green.
Though orange-like in odor, it’s not what it seems.
It is bumpy and pitted somewhat like the brain
So “brain-fruit’s” another weird Osage fruit name.
Plus “hedge apple”, “horse-apple”, “hedge ball”, “bois d’arc”
The namers of Osage fruit sure made their mark.
There is “monkey brain”, “monkey orange”, also “bow wood”
If fame rest in names then the Osage did good.
The tree is most useful, the Osage would say
For bows and ax handles and games they might play
But what is the use of the fruit of this tree?
Few animals eat it to any degree.
A boyhood experience told by a friend
Suggested a much less than savory end
To the question of uses of grapefruit sized bombs
But it’s hardly a story they told to their moms.
It seems that an inner tube fixed to a tree
Made a world class huge sling shot to set that fruit free
To land on the boxcars of oncoming trains
And to splat and to splotch them and leave them with stains.
Today if they caught you it might not go well.
Your fun-filled barrage might land you in a cell.
Yet I seriously doubt that they’d notice the stain
Among the graffiti that’s found on a train.