Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera)

Tree
M. aurantiaca. Toxylon pommifera.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Osage Orange
Maclura pomifera
Moraceae

A yellow dye is obtained from the bark of the root and the wood[46, 57, 95, 149, 169, 257]. Green and orange can also be obtained from it[168].

The sap of the fruit is used as an insect repellent[95]. It is said to be effective against cockroaches[222].

The bark is a source of tannin[82, 149].

The plant is often grown as a hedge in N. America and Europe[1, 20, 50], it is very tolerant of severe pruning[200], makes an effective stock-proof barrier[200] and succeeds in maritime exposure[K]. A hedge in a very exposed position at Rosewarne in N. Cornwall has grown well (1989), though it is very bare in winter[K]. This species is also used in shelterbelt plantings[200].

Wood – coarse-grained, exceedingly hard, heavy, flexible, very strong, very durable, silky, lustrous. It weighs 48lb per cubic foot. One of the most durable woods in N. America, it is seldom used commercially, but is used locally for fence posts,piers, bows etc and makes an excellent fuel[46, 82, 95, 171, 200, 227, 229, 274].

  • Medicinal Use

    A tea made from the roots has been used as a wash for sore eyes[222, 257].

    The inedible fruits contain antioxidant and fungicidal compounds[222]. A 10% aqueous infusion and an extract diluted 1:1 have cardiovascular potentialities[240].

  • Edible Use

    One report suggests that the fruit is edible[74] but this is surely a mistake – although very large, the fruit is harsh, hard, dry and astringent. The fruit does, however, contain an anti-oxidant which can be used as a food preservative, especially for oils[61].

    The heartwood and the root yield a non-toxic antibiotic that is useful as a food preservative[240].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The milky sap can cause dermatitis in some people[200]. An extract and the juice of the fruit is toxic, though a 10% aqueous infusion and extract diluted 1:1 are not toxic[240].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in pots in a cold frame. Pre-soak stored seed for 48 hours in warm water and stratify for 2 months at 4¡c then sow in a cold frame[113, 200]. Germination is normally good. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed stores for 3 years[113]. If growing larger quantities of plants, it is probably best to sow the seed in an open seed bed[200]. Grow the plants on for a couple of years in the seed bed before planting them out into their permanent positions. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[200]. Cuttings of mature wood, November to January in a frame[113]. Layering in summer[200]. Root cuttings 4cm long in December. Plant horizontally in pots in a greenhouse and plant out as soon as possible. Good percentage[78].
Prefers a well-drained soil in full sun[200]. Succeeds in poor soils and also in dry ones[20]. Plants are fairly tolerant of maritime exposure[K]. They dislike waterlogged soils[188]. Dormant mature plants are hardy to about -20¡c though the young growth in spring can be cut back by late frosts[200] and young plants can be damaged in cold winters[188]. Plants require hot summers to fully ripen their wood if they are to thrive in areas with cold winters[188]. Plants are tolerant of severe pruning[200]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Southern N. America – Arkansas to Texas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.