Osage Orange - Maclura Pomifera

- Seeds available for swap on myFolia -

Seeds of this North American Native member of the Moraceae family are thought to have once been distributed by now-extinct pleistocene megafauna, such as the giant ground sloth, mammoth, mastodon and gomphothere (much like the Paw Paw, Kentucky Coffeetree, and the American Persimmon). As these species—and native equine species—went extinct at the end of the last ice age, the range of the Osage Orange became severely circumscribed. Now, the seeds are dispersed by humans (anthropochory) and squirrels (zoochory).

The tree itself is thorny, and often planted as windbreak and wildlife/livestock barriers for fields, hence the moniker “Hedge Apple.” It yields a beautiful, dense, rot-resistant wood that is used for a variety of applications, including bowmaking. Many North American indigenous peoples prized this tree for this and other purposes: the name “Osage Orange” refers to the Osage  (Ni-u-kon-ska) Nation.

The fruit is considered inedible because of it’s sticky white latex-containing juice, as well as it’s dense and mealy texture. It is purported to repel insects, but accumulated scientific evidence in recent years asserts that insect-repellant properties only occur in concentrates derived from the plant. Nonetheless, the tree is largely free of pest and fungal problems.

As of this morning, I have four newly-sprouted Osage Orange seedlings, from seeds exchanged by kihaku-gato. I have a number left over that I cannot possibly use.

To swap, join myFolia for free, and I will send you a swap code. Check out my wishlist to find out what I am looking for, and browse my growing germplasm (seeds, bulbs, and cuttings) inventory.

Photos: Bruce Marlin,  H. Zell, Hobbit House, Dallas/Forth Worth Urban Wildlife 
#seedswap #fruit trees #forest gardening #edible landscaping #North America #indigenous

I never did tell you guys what happened to my Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) germination attempt did I? Well here are the results 4 alive (or 5 if you count the one that’s alive only to the root) saplings. There were many other seedlings at the start, and I would’ve likely had more if I had kept the media moist just a few weeks more, though in the end these are the remaining toughies. I did the taboo of growing them indoors all summer long, though ironically that might’ve been what kept them going (the window they were growing at is very hot and sunny while the summer outside was cold, and I was able to better supervise them indoors rather than if they had been out in the erratic weather outside). Unlike my red oak saplings that croaked from being planted too early as well as from the droughty year, these Osage Oranges have thrived so far and have been quite forgiving of the occasional dry-out in their containers.

With the growing season coming to a close I have prepared them as my test babies for future tree-growing and raising endeavours: on Friday they were potted up in big deep black flowerpots on that I had in storage, and have bamboo stakes put in with them to hold them straight (well not yet… since I have yet to get something to gently tie them up to said stakes), and then were given a good drink (possibly their last). At the moment they are on the sheltered Front Porch on the farm to harden them off for the cold weather as they share space with tropicals that have yet to be brought indoors. After a week the saplings will be brought further away from the porch to harden them off just a bit more, afterwhich they will be buried into the vegetable garden (up to the flowerpot edges in depth they will be buried) in which they will be forgotten till spring.

While I still have no place to permanently grow such thorny/beastly trees-to-be, they will be helpful guinea pigs for the meantime for the sake of future tree cultivations of less forgiving species.

Photographed September 19th 2014

Fruit, Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera), Fairfax, ole Virginny, 2011.

A North American native from the southern midwest, the tree, not a member of the citrus family, with its showy but inedible fruit is a popular planting in various parts of the US. The largest such tree known is said to be in Alexandria, about 25 km from where the photo was taken. The fruit is often used in floral decoration. The species has a number of other popular names including hedge apple, horse apple, monkey ball, and bodock. 

My Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) seedlings from the unstratified batch have been narrowed down to five seedlings that have survived various stress tests.

There are three remaining that are the most vigorous, and those are the ones I’ll be planting in the yard this spring! Hopefully of those three, at least two survive in the long term, but I also have a batch of stratified seeds to choose from if these fail.

They are beautiful little trees, and I can’t wait to move them out of the bathroom closet, and in to the landscape!

More: The Osage Orange

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#Osage Orange

Saturday in the Garden

Maclura pomifera


Brought to me by the gentleman, a strange fruit found on one of his morning bicycle rides recently. The first of its kind I have ever seen. Bright green, reminiscent of corn on the cob, but more of a corn on the sphere. Last Tuesday when I arrived at my uncle’s home in rural NY I was delighted to find the same, albeit larger version of the mysterious fruit on the counter.

They have a tree in their yard that bore buckets full this year. The osage orange. Unedible, slightly fragrant and quite heavy. “An ancient fruit,” my uncle told me.

I was unable to bring any of the northern crop home due to an already stuffed suitcase, but am determined to grow one here from the seeds in the one the gentleman brought me. How serendipitous!

"Osage-Orange should be grown in full sun on well-drained soil. This tough, native plant can withstand almost anything once established - heat, cold, wind, drought, poor soil, ice storms, vandalism - but appreciates regular watering when young until it is established." -Environmental Horticulture Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

#Darwinist Gardening

15/25 Osage Orange seeds germinated (of the stored and not re-stratified batch), 12 of which resulted in healthy seedlings.

Once they have started to develop woody stems, and are no longer at risk of wire stem and damping-off, I will pick out the top 50% of seedlings (the healthiest, most vigorous, and most attractive).

Those seedlings will then be planted out in the forest garden in a competitive, biodiverse environment. The trees that survive all of those challenges will be the ones that get to live in my landscape: generally I give the extra trees to friends and neighbours who are interested in specimen plants.

This species of tree becomes sexually mature between 8-12 years of age: so, in about a decade, I can repeat the process again.

#landrace #evolution #plant breeding #germination #Osage Orange

14/25 of the first batch of Osage Orange seeds are up, and some of them are starting to get their first true leaves.

Never mind #100 trees a year: I think I’ve planted well over 1000 this year alone! But don’t take that to mean I’ll slack off for the next ten years: maybe merely planting 100 trees a year is just too easy of a goal.

Once these are a little older I’ll put them up in my shop.

So far these little seedlings have tolerated three mild nighttime frosts, without being covered. I am going to start transitioning them indoors for the worst parts of winter.

2-3/16" Inch 55.6mm Organic Osage Orange Single Flared Exotic Wood Plugs

Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) is a brightly colored wood located mostly in the South Central states of the U.S. It can also be found in some Eastern states such as Virginia and Pennsylvania. Osage Orange is a very strong wood that sands to a beautiful shine and makes a great set of plugs in any size. These plugs are finished with Jojoba oil prior to shipping and this listing includes 2 matching plugs (1 pair). Single plugs can be purchased by contacting us. The wearing length is 5/16” between the flares and/or O-rings if applicable. Overall plug length will depend on plug style. These organic plugs are custom made AFTER they are ordered in the United States so if you need a different wearing length, please contact us prior to ordering. Our turn around time ranges from 1-5 days and depends on the quantity, size, style,
2-3/16” Inch 55.6mm Organic Osage Orange Single Flared Exotic Wood Plugs and wood species ordered. Plugs over 1 1/2” may take longer. INCLUDED: Each order will include a black velvet drawstring bag for each pair of plugs ordered, a free 3ml bottle of Jojoba oil, and a cleaning cloth. PLEASE NOTE: The image in this listing is a STOCK image and is not the exact product you will receive. Since wood is a natural material no two pairs will look identical and color may slightly vary from image.