Monday, November 19, 2007
Bow and Gun Stock in the Hedge
The dogs and I came across this den yesterday morning, and it looked like it had been aerial bombed by Black Walnuts.
Which, of course, it had. I guess that's why they call it Fall.
Black Walnuts are fairly allelopathic, which means the roots of the tree put out a chemical that discourages many (but not all) plants from growing underneath and competing for nutrients and water.
Other plants that are allelopathic include some common invasive plants, such as Ailanthus, Garlic Mustard, and Japanese Knot Weed, as well as Rhododendron.
Black Walnut, of course, is a prized furniture wood, and is also used to make gun stocks.
Here's another aerial bombing. These are Osage Oranges (which are not an orange), which are about the size of a softball (i.e. you can barely span them with both hands) and which are quite heavy.
Osage Orange is sometimes called "Hedge Apple" (though it is not an apple), and it was once used by Native Americans for making bows, and later by early settlers looking for rot-resistant fence posts.
Osage Orange, along with Honey Locust (a very common tree) and the Kentucky Coffeetree (quite rare) are trees that have large fruits and seed pods with thick protective coatings or thorns.
It is believed that these protective coatings are natural defenses designed to help protect the fruit of these trees from over-grazing by mammoths that roamed through this area perhaps as recently as 10,000 years ago.
The largest Osage Orange Tree in the world is in Virginia, and is reported to have been planted by Patrick Henry's daughter from seeds brought East by Lewis and Clark.
The largest Kentucky Coffeetree in the world is in Maryland.
The largest Honey Locust tree is in Pennsylvania.