How to Grow Maclura – Osage Orange 

Green fruits of Maclura pomifera osage orange

Maclura–commonly called Osage orange–is a deciduous tree native from Arkansas to Oklahoma and Texas. It can grow to 50 feet (15m) tall but often less. It is a thorny plant often grown as a round windbreak or hedge but can be grown as a specimen.

Maclura is often found in woodlands and clearings and along roadsides. It can withstand heat, cold, wind, poor soil, moderate alkalinity, and wet or dry conditions. Young branches are thornier than mature ones. There is a nearly thornless variety, ‘Witchita.’

Female Maclura bears inedible 4-inch fruits–sometimes called hedge apples or horse apples–that resemble bumpy, yellow-green oranges.

Maclura is a genus of 15 species of usually thorny, evergreen, or deciduous trees, shrubs, and climbers. Members of the genus can be found in East Asia and Australia.

Maclura pomifera fruits
Maclura pomifera fruits persist on the tree after leaves drop in autumn

Get to Know Maclura 

  • Plant type: Evergreen or deciduous, dioecious trees, shrubs, or climbers 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 5 to 9
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 5
  • Height and width: To 50 feet (15m) tall and 40 feet (12m) wide 
  • Growth rate: Spreading, open habit 
  • Form and habit: Fast 
  • Foliage: Thorny branches often reduced to spines; alternate or spiraling medium-green leaves, to 5 inches (13cm) long, are obovate or narrowly to broadly ovate; leaves are a shiny deep green in summer and turn an attractive yellow in fall; if a leaf is crushed or a leafstalk is broken, it exudes a sticky milky juice that irritates the skin on some people 
  • Flowers: Racemes or clusters of small, spherical or cup-shaped, usually green flowers are followed  
  • Fruits: Fleshy, spherical fruits, surrounded by enlarged bracts resemble bumpy, yellow-green oranges 
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Uses: Shrub border, windbreak, specimen, hedge 
  • Common name: Osage orange 
  • Botanical name: Maclura 
  • Family name: Moraceae 
  • Origin: East Asia to Australia and South central United States to South America 

Where to Plant Maclura 

  • Plant Maclura in full sun.  
  • Plant Maclura in moderately fertile, well-drained soil.   
  • Maclura tolerates desert heat, wind and drought once its far-ranging roots are established. 
Dense foliage of Maclura
Dense foliage of Maclura pomifera

When to Plant Maclura 

  • Set container-grown Maclura in the garden in spring or autumn.
  • Sow Maclura seed in containers in an open frame as soon as ripe. 

Planting and Spacing Maclura 

  • Plant Maclura 40 feet (12m) apart.  
  • Maclura are easily transplanted. 
  • Because Maclura have invasive roots, it should not be planted near sewer or drainage lines. 

How to Water and Feed Maclura 

  • Give Maclura regular to little water. 
  • Feed Maclura with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring. 

How to Care for Maclura 

  • Remove some branches of mature Maclura trees to create a more open appearance. 

Maclura Pests and Diseases 

  • Maclura are susceptible to attacks by scale insects. 
  • Dieback, gray mold, rust, and wilt can also be a problem.   
Osage orange, Maclura pomifera

Maclura Propagation 

  • Root semi-ripe Maclura cuttings ith bottom heat in summer, or take root cuttings in winter.  

Maclura Varieties to Grow 

  • Maclura pomifera, Osage orange, rounded, deciduous tree, thorny when young, becoming less so with age, with ovate, pointed, dark green leaves, to 4 inches (10cm) long, turning yellow in autumn. Tiny, cup-shaped, yellow-green flowers—the females in short racemes, the males in dense, spherical clusters—are borne in early summer, followed on female trees by large, wrinkled, fragrant, yellow-green fruit, to 5 inches (13cm) across. To 50 feet (15m) tall and 40 feet (12m) wide. South central United States. 

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