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bois d’arc tree – Rayville, Louisiana

French trappers were the first to encounter the tree which they named bois d’arc because the native tribes used the tough wood to make their bows. The first tree Lewis and Clark sent back east from St. Louis in 1804 was the “Osage Apple,” a tree that the French trader Pierre Chouteau had picked up from the Osage Indians 300 miles to the south and west.

The fruit of the bois d’arc tree (pronounced BO-dark), also known as Osage orange or locally as a bois d’arc apple, contains high levels of natural chemicals called isoflavones. Research has indicated that consumption of isoflavone compounds, which are found in dietary plants such as soybeans, may play a role in lowering one’s risk for heart disease and cancer, ease menopause symptoms and improve bone health.

“Coming up with a magic bullet to treat Alzheimer’s disease is a long way off, but I think there’s a chance of learning something through natural products such as the isoflavones produced by Osage orange. They probably will not provide an immediate drug, but understanding their biological activities may indicate an avenue of research for developing a new pharmaceutical.”

Source: A&M Systemwide