The tree had been discovered much earlier, of course, by Native Americans who highly prized the wood’s suppleness and used if for making bows. This explains why French settlers called it bois d'arc. Bodock and bodark (other names for the tree) are clearly bastardizations of the French. Monkey ball, another name, must be a result of the fruit’s funny appearance.
On the great plains, Osage oranges, often referred to as hedge apples were planted close together not only to provide windbreaks, but also to fence cattle pastures, the trees’ prodigious thorns deterring even the most eager escapee. The tree remained in use in this fashion until the introduction of barbed wire in the 1880s.
Before you go slamming the Osage, you should know that it was also used as a very effective tool during the Dust Bowl years to combat soil erosion. FDR’S Great Plains Shelterbelt WPA Project launched in 1934 saw the planting of 30,233 shelterbelts containing 220 million trees many of them Osage oranges.