Bois d’Arc Trees (Osage Orange)

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

This tree is easily spotted by its fruit.

When you come up to a Bois D’Arc tree, you’ll see the fruit, which most people call horse apples. It’s a yellowish color and will get as large as grapefruit. I always kinda joke with people it can be kind of a hard-hat area.

Lee Ellis is Park Manager of Bonham State Park, where the Bois D’Arc can be seen in large numbers. Of course, the apples are not edible to humans, but Ellis says that people have found them useful for other purposes.

Some people actually still use bois d’arc apples to put around their homes. There’s food for thought out there that it’ll actually keep spiders and other insects from getting to your house.

But more valued than its apples, is the Bois D’Arc’s wood.

Especially before the invention of barbed wire, people would use it as hedges. The bark actually has spines on it, so it acted as a natural barrier. And the wood itself is very durable, very hard, and very elastic also, and it turned out to be very resistant to termites and other insects. So they would use it, the early settlers, for everything from fence posts, grave markers, foundations for houses. Matter of fact, at one time, the only way to get a loan for a house in Texas was if the foundation was made out of Bois D’Arc.

One gentle reminder: the wood, nor its fruit, can be taken from the parks. The animals need them too!

That’s our show…with research and writing help from Sarah Loden… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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