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"Bodark" trees

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

Common names can be fascinating and puzzling. Here is a wonderful example – Maclura pomifera has a whole string of common names – osage orange (for the Osage tribe) and its baseball sized fruits that look like citrus and are produced by the female plants; also bois d’arc or bodark, as it called, was prized by indigenous people for making bows, and at Halloween the common name monkey brains comes up as it’s used in disgusting and scary displays. Originally it was found in the Red River drainage system, a relatively small area. As it’s not appealing to animals, squirrels may eat its seeds, animals don’t spread it. But native Americans did to increase its range because its strong and flexible wood was ideal for making bows, This tree will grow just about anywhere, not picky about soil or moisture once established.

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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.