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The spread of osage orange

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The spread of Maclura pomifera, aka osage orange or bodark tree, from the relatively small Red River drainage system to 48 states was due not just it’s importance to native Americans. In the treeless prairies, settlers used this tree as a living fence – it could be pruned to sucker and with its sharp thorns formed a living fence that served as a windbreak and would keep out marauding animals, a living, and natural barbed wire described as being horse high, bull strong, and hog tight. With the use of actual barbed wire, the rot-proof wood was used as fence posts while still green, once dried it was too hard to put nails in it. That is if you had the foresight to split the logs for posts before they dried, as once again they are iron-like once they’ve aged.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.