Friday, June 26, 2009

Bois d'arc

The yellow wooded bow was pulled half its length back and with the arrow centered the deft hand released the string propelling a shaven flint rocket through the air catching the rabbit almost instantly below the soft puffy head in the hard heat of the Solitario in west Texas.

The Bois D’arc tree also knows as the Osage Orange or the Horse Apple, because of the softball size chartreuse fruit that horses, cows and squirrels love, grows gnarly and strong throughout the Trans-Pecos region. Perhaps its first use among humans came among the Native Americans who found its strong yet pliable limbs excellent for bow making. French traders first encountered the weapon in the middle Mississippi Valley and gave the wood of the arc its name. A trading post in the nearby mountains was known by Frenchmen as Aux Arc, which later transmogrified into English as Ozark.

Years before the invention of barbed wire, Bois d’arc trees were used as fences as they grew thorny and thick and were described as horse high, bull strong and hog tight. By 1850 Kansas was said to have more than 50,000 miles of Bois d’arc hedges.

Researchers at Texas A&M University have recently isolated high concentrations of antioxidants in the Isoflavones found in the Bois d’arc fruit. Antioxidants may help against heart disease, cancer, ease menopause and improve bone health. The particular isoflavone found in both the soybean and the horse apple are believed to protect neurons in the brains of Alzheimer patients from the toxic effects of amyloid beta peptide which may be the triggering agent for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Soybeans contain less than one tenth of one percent of the isoflavone compound, while the Bois d’arc fruit contains nearly 10 per cent.

To date, the precise chemistry of why the isoflavone protects neurons against the peptide agents of Alzheimer’s and how the bois d’arc fruit evolved to produce such hi quantities of isoflavones is unknown.

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