Forest 102 - Osage Orange

Maclura pomifera

Maclura pomifera fruits. Photo not from the Arboretum Maclura pomifera tree. Photo not from the Arboretum

Other common names

Hedge-apple, horse-apple; French: Bois D'Arc.

Origin of the species name

Maclura is named after William MacClure, American geologist, 1763-1840; pomifera is Latin for fruit-bearing.



Date planted

November 2011


Trees of this species live about 75 years.

Maclura pomifera male flowers and leaves. Photo not from the Arboretum 

General description

This is a small deciduous tree of with deeply furrowed bark and thorny branches. It has glossy, dark green-leaves and produces an inedible fruit that resembles a large orange but is inedible and contains a sticky white latex sap. There is one species, Maclura cochinchinensis, that is native to northern Queensland, Australia. Height 12m Spread 8m.

Natural distribution and habitat

It is native to in the Red River drainage of Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas in the United State of America. It grows in harsh areas of south-central North America where the winters can be very cold, spring floods are common, and summer droughts are not unusual.

Conservation status

It is not classified as a threatened species.

Planting pattern

Planted in a combination of straight lines and arcs.


The native Osage American people used the straight grained wood for war clubs and bows, hence the name Bois D'Arc (bow-wood) givenby the early French settlers who observed this practice. Most of the wood is knotty and twisted, but beautiful and therefore popular for craft work. Early in the European settlement of North America the sharp-thorned trees were planted as cattle-deterring hedges before the introduction of barbed wire. Later, the heavy, close-grained wood became an important source of fence posts. tool handles and other uses requiring a strong wood that withstands rot. A yellow-orange dye can also be extracted from the wood and the wood, when dried, makes excellent firewood. The seed is edible and the fruits are non-toxic but unpalatable.