Maclura pomifera, of the mulberry family, grows in a large portion of the United States. Historically, it has long been used as makeshift fences, for bows and other tools, and as an arthropod repellent. It is resilient to pollution, allowing it to be successful in a myriad of different environments. Many Maclura species once existed, but the loss of mammoths (their primary seed disperser), only M. pomifera remains.
Maclura pomifera (Osage-Orange, Hedge-Apple, Bois D’Arc, Bowwood, Bodark)
Native: southern United States, Texas
Height: to 18 meters
Diameter: to 12m
Root System: spreading, wide, grows rapidly
Growth Rate: rapid
Age: to 80 years old typically
Tolerates: brought, clay soil, air pollution, poor soils, strong wind, wood rot and disease resistant
Problems (major): none
Problems (minor): fruits (litter), spines, surface roots
Poisonous: no (fruits not edible)
Soil requirements: tolerant of most soil types
Air Requirements: tolerant of air pollution
Watering requirement: moderate, tolerant of drier soils (based on native habitats)
Sun requirement: full sun preferred, tolerates partial sun/shade
Leaves: simple, alternate, glossy, lanceolate with rounded base, green (turning bright yellow) to 20cm
Flowers: non-showy, green for males and females
Fruits: 13 cm in diameter with deterrent chemicals, exude milky-white fluids, yellow-green to 300 seeds per multiple fruit, previously dispersed by mammoths
Seeds require stratification: yes
Originally native to Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, it has naturalized well across most of the United States.
This tree is widely used as fencing in the 1800’s but rarely used today. The wood is extremely valuable as it is rot resistant, disease resistant, and overall extremely resilient. For gardens, it is used as a shade tree or a windbreak. Female trees are usually not recommended due to their sometimes troublesome fruits. This is often suitable for city areas, where pollution often chokes out other trees.
- Kershner, Bruce, Daniel Mathews, Gil Nelson, Richard Spellenberg, Terry Purinton, Andrew Block, Gerry Moore, and John W. Thieret. Field Guide to Trees of North America. Comp. Craig Tufts. New York: Sterling, 2008. Print.
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