Largest of its species in the nation, this tree has for decades been named the National Champion by the American Forest Hall of Fame. The great Osage orange tree is at least 330 years old at the turn of this century and stands at greater than 60 feet tall, with an average branch span of more that 85 feet and a circumference of nearly 30 feet. This tree at Red Hill is a male of the species.
The Osage orange became popular in the eastern states after the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806. Names after the Osage Tribe of Missouri, the wood of the tree was used to make bows, and the valuable seed heavily traded among American Indians. When settlers began moving west, they found the wood of the tree made excellent wagon wheel rims. When planted in hedgerows, it would quickly gown into an impenetrable fence for livestock that was "horse high, bull strong, and pig tight." With the invention of barbed wire fencing the Osage orange tree fell into disfavor, having thorns and bearing a messy fruit which is inedible for humans, although squirrels like the round, fleshy green fruit immensely.