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Osage Orange

Osage orange can be found in nearly every area of the United States with its major concentration found in the Great Plains area. Native to southern Oklahoma and northern Texas, osage orange was originally planted as natural hedges to serve as fencing for livestock.
The name of this tree comes from the Osage Indians that lived in the tree's native areas, and from the orange-peel aroma from the fruit's skin.

Mature osage orange trees are reported to reach 50 feet (15 m) in height, and have a trunk diameter of about 2 feet (60 cm). The sapwood is a light yellow color, and the heartwood is usually a greenish-yellow, or golden-yellow to bright orange when it is first cut. The heartwood turns russet-brown with exposure to the air, and ages to expose dark streaks of color. The grain is straight and closed, and can be compared to the grain of black locust. Decorative mottles are sometimes found on some pieces.

One of the strongest properties of osage orange is its high resistance to decay and weathering. This property and its resistance to humidity makes it a popular wood to use as fence posts.
Although not a common wood to be used for turning, you can find some beautiful pieces done with osage orange.

Osage orange's grain pattern and texture make it a good wood for gluing, although due to its hardness, it can be hard to machine. The wood is good for kiln drying. A moderate kiln schedule is recommended. It is also not recommended to use oil finishes with osage orange as it speeds up the color change.

More information about osage orange can be found at www.gpnc.org/osage.htm and www.forestworld.com

 

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