Moraceae (Mulberry Family)
Osage-orange, Hedge-tree, Hedge-apple
- Deciduous tree, short trunk, 20-40(60) ft (6-12(18) m) tall with a similar spread. Stems have stout spines, about 1.5 cm long. Leaves simple, alternate, or clustered on lateral spur shoots, ovate to oblong-lanceolate, 5-13 cm long and half as wide, entire, glabrous, glossy bright to dark green, petiole produces a milky sap. Dioecious (male and female plants), inconspicuous, yellow-green flowers. Fruit is inedible, very large (8-15 cm wide), globose, a syncarp of drupes covered with a rind ("lethal in October if one is sitting under the tree", [Dirr, 1998]), seeds are deeply embedded in the fruit. (Squirrels tear the fruit apart to get at the seeds, often leaving a pile of fruit pulp under the tree).
- Sun. A tough, durable tree, does best in poor sites. Can withstand wetness, dryness, wind, and heat. Early settlers of the Great Plains used osage-orange for hedgerows. The closely planted trees and the thorny branches formed impenetrable hedgerows to fence in livestock. Many hedgerows remain to this day even though the enclosed fields are now used to raise crops, not livestock.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 4 Native to Arkansas to Oklahoma and Texas, but often grown outside the area and naturalized in much of the eastern U.S. There are several selected forms in the nursery trade, the most desirable being male trees that are more or less thornless.
- Maclura: after William Maclura (1763-1840), American geologist. pomifera: apple-bearing.
- Portland, OR: Hoyt Arboretum.
- Corvallis: west of the bike path about half-a-block east of the intersection of Philomath Buelvard and 15th St.