Osage Orange

Imagine tennis balls – the bright neon-green kind – but a little larger and all wrinkly. Two of these showed up on my porch the other day (mysteriously) and I brought them in and put them in my fruit bowl.

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They have an unusual odor – not “pretty” – but not unpleasant either, sort of a clean chemical aroma, if that makes sense. I did a little googling and discovered they are called osage oranges (Maclura pomifera) and they grow on trees whose northern most range is the southern most part of my county, just barely.

osage orange distribution MapIt is reported indigenous people made war clubs from its very hard wood and that Europeans found it useful as a living livestock hedge, and later, after barbed wire became popular, the rot-resistant wood made good fence posts. The seeds are edible, if you can get to them through the pulp and slimy husk, a task readily engaged in by squirrels.  There are unsubstantiated claims that the fruits repel bugs and spiders in your home.

I don’t know who put these on my porch, but if you are reading this, I am very interested in seeing the tree from which they came! Contact me?

Read accounts about Osage Orange at:

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8 thoughts on “Osage Orange

  1. I have read that the osage orange was hung by the pioneers in their homes as a natural “air freshener”. It does have a sort of citrusy smell to it. Perhaps more, an insect repellent?
    We have 2 or 3 trees here in the Lewiston area, along the escarpment area. I always used to ask the owners for some of the fruit to take into my classroom each year.

  2. There is an Osage Orange tree in the Freeport Beach Park (Hali Reid Park, North East) along the Lake Erie shore. It was pointed out to me a couple of years ago. I think some people call it a “bow tree” because the Native Indians made their hunting bows from the tree’s wood.

  3. In earlier days, i.e. 1800’s and early 1900’s, back at the farms in Kansas the trees were used as borders, wind breaks, and living fences. Then later they were taken down so farmers could farm right to the edge of their properties and the wind started to take the soil away again. Meanwhile, the hedge apples or fruit, were used to keep ants out of the house.

  4. Osage orange trees are found at Occanechee State Park in Clarksville, Virginia. I think it is about time for them to be ripe here.

  5. I used to live in Ontario, Canada. The first time I saw these fruits was in Port Dover, a small town on the North shore of Lake Erie. My father owns property near Fonthill, Ontario. He has a row of them along the roadside. People stop there in the Fall to grab some of the windfalls. I wonder if they grow any further North?

  6. there is a few of these osage-orange tree’s around here in Indiana but my plan is to help spread the seeds from the yellowed fruits..

    and for 1 thing they are not invasive trees so they need to be taken off the list in Indiana their are only 8 of these tree’s where i live and are all spread out far and i would like to see more of them growing around here and not to many animals eat the fruits my plan is to grow more of these trees all around and thats what im going to do, its very easy to grow from seeds the seeds don’t need to freeze to sprout out i have over 50 seeds so im good you-

    -just place the seed in the dirt cover it and water it and keep the dirt moist but not wet or you can place the seed in a jar with a bit of water in the jar and in a few days if the seed is good it’ll sprout out and what i have figured out is that these trees are slow growers so they take long growing like some evergreens do,

    its just that any good plants/trees i like is on Indiana’s invasive plant list and i think they put them on that list because they don’t like um its not that they are invasive its that they don’t like the plants or trees is what i think.

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