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Steve Nix

Identify Osage Orange

By November 9, 2009

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It is reported that the Osage Indians made their hunting bows from this beautiful and hard wood, and it is also used to make furniture. From April to June, Osage-Orange puts out its inconspicuous green flowers but these are followed by the very conspicuous fruits.

The fruits are four to five-inch-diameter, rough-textured, heavy green balls which ripen to yellow-green and fall in October and November. These fruits are inedible, the juice acid and milky, but squirrels relish the small seeds buried inside the pulp. When the fruits drop, they can be very messy and, for this reason, male, fruitless trees should be selected if you plant this tree.

Virginia Tech's department of dendrology has more information on Osage-orange.
Maclura pomifera Fact Sheet

Comments

December 1, 2008 at 7:05 pm
(1) David says:

This tree is commonly called the horsr apple tree here in NorthEast Texas.

December 1, 2008 at 7:07 pm
(2) David says:

That is, horse apple.

January 17, 2009 at 3:24 pm
(3) Robin says:

In Illinois we call this (osage orange) hedge or and the fruit hedge apples.

May 23, 2009 at 12:36 am
(4) Debra,k says:

Also known as BOD’ARC in east texas. The osage
used it to make bow’s and arrow’s.the osage indian’s liked it for it’s strength and hardeness.Rancher’s and farmer’s liked to make
fence post out of it,because its naturally
weather and insect proof.There are still alot
of old osage orange fence post through out
texas holdin’ miles of barbed wire ,keeping livestock fenced in.!

November 9, 2009 at 1:54 pm
(5) Debbie Gaddis says:

In Mississippi, it is known as all three names–Bois d’arc or bodark, horse apples, or osage-orange.

Years ago, shortly after the Chernobyl incident, I took a horse apple to my city-raised nieces and nephew. I told them, “I was afraid this would happen after Chernobyl. You kids know what an insect gall is, right? Well, this is obviously a mutation caused by the radiation. I just hope the insect that comes out is not giant as well!” They completely bought it until I broke out laughing.

Well, I never claimed to be a sweet aunt!

November 16, 2009 at 5:29 am
(6) Ilyan says:

I have one growing in Wales, from what you say I must get more seeds to be sure of having both genders.

Stories I heard are that it was used by mid west settlers to hedge quarter sections, making a hedge too thorny for anything to push through and too high for a horse to jump. Why such a self replenishing fence became the prototype for barbed wire is perhaps due to over replenishment? Or maybe its relative solidity caused eddies that flattened areas of crops when there were strong winds.

It is good valuable timber, some use in making guitars. How good is it for walking sticks? It is not mentioned in the self defense book “Raising Cane” about that fighting use of walking sticks.

There is already considerable info in earlier comments on this site about its great merit as firewood. I suspect it is too precious to burn.

November 16, 2009 at 6:12 am
(7) janner says:

Regarding Osage Orange, I’ve heard the expression, “Horse High, Pig Tight, and Bull Strong.”

Personally, after walking through them, I call them, “Darn Things!”

November 16, 2009 at 6:13 pm
(8) pipesme says:

Grew up around them hunting upland game in KS. Hedge apples from the hedge apple tree. And durable wood for fence posts if you could get a staple in them. Roll an “apple” under your bunk in the cabin to keep the “bugs” away.

January 2, 2010 at 10:28 pm
(9) mammagrande says:

In Indiana & Ohio, at least that I know of, farmers all had their own groves of horse apple for fence posts, etc. The tree never seemed to make it to the West Coast, though, in any appreciable acreage. Too bad.

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