Content Detail

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. Osage-orange produces large fruit and tends to have an aggressive nature and is invasive in some areas of the United States. Osage orange suckers freely and with its thorns can quickly become an impenetrable hedge row barrier. 

  • Family (English) Mulberry
  • Family (botanic) Moraceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 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 Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Occasional flooding, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Arching, Irregular, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations Aggressive, Dangerous thorns, May be difficult to find in nurseries
  • Wildlife Small mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Size and form:

Osage-orange mature height and width is 20 to 40 feet with thorns that are especially ferocious on new growth.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to the southern United States.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

Small mammals are attracted to it.

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. It has thorns which can be particularly prickly on new shoots.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, texture, and color:

The simple, alternate leaves are egg-shaped and two to five inches long with the margin being untoothed. Leaves are medium green in summer and change to yellow-green or yellow in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

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

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruits are large, four to six inch diameter, ball-like structures. They are yellow green in color and have a surface pattern that resembles that of a brain.

Plant care:

This is a very tough species that can withstand many different soils and environments once established. Female trees need a male tree pollinator in order to produce fruit. Osage orange suckers freely and with its thorns can quickly form an impenetrable barrier.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

No serious pest problems. The stems can be thorny.

White Shield osage-orange (Maclura pomifera ‘White Shield’):

A fruitless cultivars that has few to no thorns. It grows 35 feet high and wide and is fast-growing and produces yellow fall color.

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