Osage orange, commonly known as the hedge or hedge apple tree, is a small deciduous tree or large shrub, typically growing to 8 to 15 meters (30–50 ft) tall. The distinctive fruit, from a multiple fruit family, is roughly spherical, bumpy, 8 to 15 centimeters (3–6 in) in diameter, and turns bright yellow-green in the fall. The fruits secrete a sticky white latex when cut or damaged. Despite the name “Osage orange”, it is only distantly related to the orange, but rather is a member of the mulberry family, Moraceae. Due to its latex secretions and woody pulp, the fruit is typically not eaten by humans and rarely by foraging animals, giving it distinction as an anachronistic “ghost of evolution”. Maclura pomifera has been known by a variety of common names in addition to Osage orange, including hedge apple, horse apple, bois d’arc, bodark, monkey ball, bow-wood, yellow-wood and mock orange.
Osage Orange Facts
- Scientific name: Maclura pomifera
- Other names: horse apple, hedge apple, bodock, bodark, mock orange, bowwood
- Range: originally the Southwest; now also across the Southeast and Great Plains
- Height: up to 50 feet
- Fruit: yellow-green, large and round; ripens in the fall
- Fall Colors: leaves turn bright yellow
You Can Take Care of Trees Like the Osage Orange
- Plant in late fall or winter when the tree is dormant, unless the ground is frozen.
- Allow plenty of room for the tree to mature and grow.
- Water it regularly in its first three years.
- Spread mulch around the base of the tree.
IF Trees Could Sing…
Click here to see Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show talk about one of his favorite trees. Video courtesy of The Nature Conservancy and Ketch Secor.