Sunday, June 27, 2010

Osage Orange


Maclura pomifera ( Osage Orange )
Native to Texas & Arkansas north into the midwest U.S.; the Osage Orange is an extremely hardy sturdy very ornamental tree. It is an excellent choice for shelterbelts on the Great Plains though is hardy over a very large portion of the U.S. and in Ontario, Canada where locally naturalized. It has also locally naturalized in Italy & Romania. Typically reaching up to 60 feet in height; with ideal conditions the Osage Orange can grow very large reaching up to 110 x 100 feet with a trunk diameter up to 9.3 feet. Older trees tend to have a massive spreading crown spreading cool shade in summer. These trees are also long lived up to 400 years. The Osage can even grow to large sizes in very harsh climates and one of 52 x 45 feet in found in Denver, Colorado. It can also reach massive proportions far outside its native range in places such as Charlotte Co., VA; the Montpelior Mansion in Laurel, MD and the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware ( 66 x 84 x 8.2 feet ). Very fast growing up to 3 feet per year; some records include: 3 years - 20 feet and fastest recorded growth rate - 7 feet! A gigantic Osage Orange over 300 years old still thrives at the Red Hill Patrick Henry National Memorial, 1250 Red Hill Rd, Brookneal, VA.
The smooth-edged, taper-pointed, ovate leaves are up to 6 x 2 ( rarely 9 x 6 ) inches in size. The lush foliage is glossy deep green above, bright green beneath; turning to bright yellow during late autumn.
The early summer flowers are yellow-green, small and inconspicuous. Both the tiny male & female flowers are in clusters up to 0.3 inches across on separate plants during mid-spring.
The yellow-green globular fruits are like inedible oranges with a shiny wrinkled surface. They are up to 6 inches in diameter and can knock a person silly when they fall off the tree. Traditionally this limited the Osage Orange from many landscapes, however now forms are available that do not bear fruits. The fruits are reported to repel cockroaches and can be used in the kitchen.
The plants can be spiny with a singly straight spine arising from the leaf axil.
The bark is orange & fissured & the wood is heavy up to 56 pounds per square foot.
Preferring climates with 25 to 40 inches of rainfall per year and sun to part shade on any moist, deep, fertile well drained soil; the Osage Orange is extremely tolerant of summer heat, drought floods & salt and is hardy from zone 4 to 9. It is deer resistant. Propagation is easy from seed, preferrably soaked in water for 48 hours before sowing. The seeds should be planted 0.5 inches deep and the seedlings can reach 10 inches in height in the first year.

* photos taken @ Montpelior Mansion in Laurel, Maryland on July 2002

* photo taken on April 11 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photo from unknown source on internet

* photo taken on annual Horticultural Society of Maryland Garden Tour

* photo taken on August 3 2010 @ University of Guelph Arboretum, Ontario

* photo taken on August 4 2010 in Clinton, Ontario

* photos taken on Aug 3 2012 in London, ON

* photos taken on July 8 2013 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Sep 27 2013 in Laurel, MD

* photo taken on Aug 15 2014 @ Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD

* photos taken on Oct 24 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Apr 24 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Sep 20 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Oct 26 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Nov 4 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on June 14 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on May 24 2017 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Sep 3 2017 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on May 3 2018 @ Montpelior Mansion, Laurel, MD

* historical archive photo

* National record Osage Orange photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

This photo of Red Hill Patrick Henry National Memorial is courtesy of TripAdvisor

A majestic thornless tree that is shaped like the American Elm. Being a male clone, it does not produce fruit.


Thornless with great fast growing, vase-shaped form. It is a male clone plant therefore not producing any fruit. Attractive leathery foliage.

Maclura tinctoria ( Dyer's Mulberry )
Native from Mexico south to Argentina and reaching up to 170 feet in height! Foliage is up to 5 inches in length. Hardy zone 10 and south; it may grow well in south Florida though personally I've never heard of it being grown inside the U.S.

Maclura tricuspidata ( Apricot Melonberry, Cudrania )
Also called Cudrania tricuspidata; this central China native becomes a, thorny, small to medium sized tree typically to 30 feet with the largest on record being 60 x 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 2.2 feet. Cudrania on good sites is a fast growing tree.
The elliptical leaves are similar to that of the Osage Orange ( Maclura pomifera ) reaching up to 6 x 3 inches in size. The foliage is glossy deep green. The leaves can be used as food for Silkworm.
The tiny green flowers are tightly packed into small round flower heads. The male and female flowers are carried on separate trees though some trees will fruit without a pollinator.
These are later replaced on female trees by 2 inch, globular edible fruit that turn red as they ripen. The fruit taste like Canteloupe. A single mature tree can produce up to 400 pounds of fruit.
The plants can be spiny with a singly straight spine arising from the leaf axil.
The light gray bark is deeply furrowed.
Best on sunny sites protected from excessive wind on fertile acid soil; this tree actually prefers regions with hot summers. In cool summer temperate regions it is best grown against a south facing wall. Tolerant of drought; the Cudrania can be propagated from seed or cuttings. Hardy zone 5 to 9 thriving from Ontario ( Canada ) to northern Florida.

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