A Remarkable Osage-orange

Tree Information
Common Name: Osage-orange
Scientific name: Maclura pomifera
Category: Historic tree
Notes: This historic Osage-orange tree is a male specimen (it has never produced fruit) and was estimated by several certified arborists (including former Richmond City Arborist Carl Pokorny and Arborcare's Joel Koci) to be at least 150 to 200 years old. Though it is sadly now in decline, it has thrived on the open hilltop in what is now Forest Hill Park for nearly two centuries. It has survived being surrounded by a full-blown turn-of-the-century amusement park from 1890 to 1932, and has bravely withstood some of the area's most severe climate conditions, including decades of searing summer heat, heavy ice storms, and violent assaults by wind and water, including Hurricane Isabel and Tropical Storm Gaston. This venerable old tree is deeply admired and much beloved by families and children who use the park as their outdoor amphitheater and green playground. Assuming that the tree's age estimate is accurate, this specimen could well have been standing when a young attorney, Holden Rhodes (1799-1857), had stonemasons cut blocks from the granite quarry on his property to build his country mansion, Boscobel, in 1843, for himself and his bride Eliza Anne Cunliffe Heth. The house is now known as the Old Stone House in Forest Hill Park and belongs to the City of Richmond's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. The entire park, including its oldest living thing, the Osage-orange, is listed on the Virginia Register of Historic Landmarks and the National Register of Historic Places. During a recent reforestation project co-sponsored by the Richmond Recreation and Parks Foundation, Friends of Forest Hill Park, and employees of Philip Morris Incorporated, several young Osage-orange trees (hopefully both male and female) were planted near the aging tree.
Best time to photograph: Possibly early morning or evening
Nominator: Robin Ruth
Location of Tree
County/City: Richmond City
Name of tree owner: City of Richmond
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Osage-orange Identification

 

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