© Charlotte Staub Thomas

Osage Orange

Maclura pomifera

ON MARCH 26, 1804, Captain Meriwether Lewis wrote to President Thomas Jefferson, “I send you herewith inclosed, some slips of the Osages Plums, and Apples. I fear the season is too far advanced for their success.” In the letter he described the osage apple, which we now call osage orange, in some detail. The United States had just acquired from France the Louisiana Purchase, a vast territory between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Lewis and Captain William Clark were in St. Louis, recruiting members for the Corps of Discovery, purchasing tools and supplies, and building boats for their journey up the Missouri River and across the mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Pierre Chouteau, a prominent citizen of St. Louis who had lived with the Osage nation, introduced the osage orange to Captain Lewis.

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