fbpx Osage-orange | The Morton Arboretum

Osage-orange

Osage-orange has a grapefruit-sized fruit.

Commonly called Osage-orange or hedge apple, this medium-sized tree has a short trunk and rounded crown with large globular fruit produced by female trees. The wood was once used as fence posts throughout the Midwest. Osage-orange produces large fruit and tends to have an aggressive nature. 

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

 

Botanical name:

Maclura pomifera

All Common Names:

Osage-orange, hedge apple, hedgeapple

Family (English):

Mulberry

Family (Botanic):

Moraceae

Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree

Foliage:

  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Parkway/street,
  • Shade tree

Size Range:

  • Medium tree (25-40 feet),
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)

Mature Height:

20-40 feet

Mature Width:

20-40 feet

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil

Tolerances:

  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Wet sites,
  • Occasional flooding,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil,
  • Road salt

Acid Soils:

  • Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Tolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Tolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • Aggressive,
  • Dangerous thorns,
  • May be difficult to find in nurseries

Ornamental Interest:

  • Fall color,
  • Showy fruit,
  • Attractive bark

Season of Interest:

  • Early winter,
  • Mid winter,
  • Late winter,
  • Late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Arching,
  • Irregular,
  • Round

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

Transplants Well:

  • Yes

Wildlife:

  • Small mammals

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

This is a very tough species that can withstand many different soils and environments once established.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious pest problems.
The stems can be thorny. 
This species has become invasive in some areas of the United States.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to the southern United States.

Bark color and texture 

The gray-brown to orange-brown bark is distinctly furrowed into an irregular criss-cross pattern.  The bark has a somewhat fibrous appearance.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves are egg-shaped and 2 to 5 inches long.  The margin of the leaf is untoothed.
Leaves are medium green in summer, changing to yellow-green or yellow in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male and female flowers are on separate trees (dioecious).  Both genders are in round clusters but are ornamentally unimportant.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

The fruits are large (4 to 6 inch diameter) ball-like structures.  They are yellow green in color and have a surface pattern that resembles that of a brain.

Cultivars and their differences

White Shield osage-orange (Maclura pomifera 'White Shield'):  A fruitness cultivars that has few to no thorns.  Grows 35 feet high and wide and is fast-growing.  Good yellow fall color.

 

Location of Maclura pomifera (Osage-orange) at the Arboretum