Mom called. She said the mystery tree is called an OSAGE ORANGE. Mom’s really do know all. “How do you know that?” I asked. “I just do,” I think, was her reply. I Wikipedia’ed it (I love that site) and sure as you know what, she’s right. Here’s a link if you’re plant-curious:
They are native to Arkansas, Texas, Oklahmoa, Kansas, and Missouri but can tolerate climates further north as Pennsylvania.
Apparently it’s nasty inside and critters don’t eat them except for the ocassional squirrel, which screws with the critter eats, then poo’s, then spreads the plant around way of nature.
According to Wikipedia, “The fruits have a pleasant and mild odor, but are inedible for the most part. Although not strongly poisonous, eating it may cause vomiting. The fruits are sometimes torn apart by squirrels to get at the seeds, but few other native animals make use of it as a food source. This is unusual, as most large fleshy fruits serve the function of seed dispersal, accomplished by their consumption by large animals. One recent hypothesis is that the Osage-orange fruit was eaten by a giant ground sloth that became extinct shortly after the first human settlement of North America. Other extinct Pleistocene megafauna, like the mammoth, mastodon and gomphothere may have fed on the fruit and aided in seed dispersal. An equine species that went extinct at the same time also has been suggested as the plant’s original dispersal mechanism because modern horses and other livestock will sometimes eat the fruit.
Oooh…I love such oddball trivia. Other cool tidbits, FDR planted them as a primary windbreak tree, Lewis found them curious and sent a clipping to Thomas Jefferson, it has sharp thorns and is sometimes planted as a fence to deter cattle, the Osage Native Americans prize the wood for bow making and a yellow-orange dye may be extracated from the bark. Here is a sliced open version.
There, plant lesson of the week. Mom gets the prize for speedy reply!