|Maclura pomifera subsp. var.||Osage-orange, Horse-apple, Bois D'Arc, Bodark|
Osage-orange, Horse-apple, Bois D'Arc, or Bodark (Maclura pomifera) is a small deciduous tree or large shrub, typically growing to 8 - 15 m tall. It is dioeceous, with male and female flowers on different plants. The fruit, a multiple fruit, is roughly spherical, but bumpy, and 7–15 cm in diameter, and it is filled with a sticky white latex sap. In fall, its color turns a bright yellow-green and it has a faint odor similar to that of oranges.
Maclura is closely related to the genus Cudrania, and hybrids between the two genera have been produced. In fact, some botanists recognize a more broadly defined Maclura that includes species previously included in Cudrania and other genera of Moraceae.
The trees range from 40 - 60 ft high with short trunk and round-topped head. The juice is milky and acrid. The roots are thick, fleshy, covered with bright orange bark.
The leaves are arranged alternately on a slender growing shoot 3 - 4 ft long, varying from dark to pale tender green. In form they are very simple, a long oval terminating in a slender point. In the axil of every growing leaf is found a growing spine which when mature is about 1 in cm long, and rather formidable. The pistillate and staminate flowers are on different trees; both are inconspicuous; but the fruit is very much in evidence. This in size and general appearance resembles a large, yellow green orange; only its surface is roughened and tuberculated. It is, in fact, a compound fruit such as botanists call a syncarp, where the carpels (that is, the ovaries) have grown together and that the great orange-like ball is not one fruit but many. It is heavily charged with milky juice which oozes out at the slightest wounding of the surface. Although the flowering is diœcious, the pistillate tree even when isolated will bear large oranges, perfect to the sight but lacking the seeds.
- Bark: Dark, deeply furrowed, scaly. Branchlets at first bright green, pubescent, during first winter they become light brown tinged with orange, later they become a paler orange brown. Branches with yellow pith, and armed with stout, straight, axillary spines.
- Wood: Bright orange yellow, sapwood paler yellow; heavy, hard, strong, flexible, capable of receiving a fine polish, very durable in contact with the ground. It has a specific gravity of 0.7736 and 1 ft3 m3 of the wood has a weight of 48.21 lb .
- Winter buds: All buds lateral. Depressed-globular, partly immersed in the bark, pale chestnut brown.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, 3 - 5 in long, 2 - 3 in wide, ovate to oblong-lanceolate, entire, acuminate, or acute or cuspidate, rounded, wedge-shaped or subcordate at base. Feather-veined, midrib prominent. They come out of the bud involute, pale bright green, pubescent and tomentose, when full grown are thick, firm, dark green, shining above, paler green below. In autumn they turn a clear bright yellow. Petioles slender, pubescent, slightly grooved. Stipules small, caducous.
- Flowers: June, when leaves are full grown; diœcious. Staminate flowers in racemes, borne on long, slender, drooping peduncles developed from the axils of crowded leaves on the spur-like branchlets of the previous year. Racemes are short or long. Flowers pale green, small. Calyx hairy, four-lobed. Stamens four, inserted opposite lobes of calyx, on the margin of thin disk; filaments flattened, exserted; anthers oblong, introrse, two-celled; cells opening longitudinally; ovary wanting. Pistillate flowers borne in a dense globose many-flowered head which appears on a short stout peduncle, axillary on shoots of the year. Calyx, hairy, four-lobed; lobes thick, concave, investing the ovary, and inclosing the fruit. Ovary superior, ovate, compressed, green, crowned by a long slender style covered with white stigmatic hairs. Ovule solitary.
- Fruit: Pale green globe, 4 - 5 in in diameter, made up of numerous small drupes, crowded and grown together. These small drupes are oblong, compressed, rounded, often notched at the apex. They are filled with milky, latex-based juice. The seeds are oblong. The fruit is often seedless, and floats.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Maclura pomifera, Schneid. (M. aurantiaca, Nutt. Toxylon pomiferum, Raf.). Tree, sometimes to 60 ft., with furrowed dark orange-colored bark: branchlets light green, soon glabrous: spines 2-3 in. long: lvs. ovate to oblong-lanceolate, acuminate, soon becoming glabrous, lustrous above, 2-6 in. long: racemes of staminate fls. 1-1 ½ in. long; heads of pistillate fls. ¾ -l in. across: fr. subglobose, 4-6 in. across, ripening in autumn and soon falling. May, June. Ark. to Texas. Var. inermis, Rehd. (M. aurantiaca var. inermis, Andre). A form with spineless branches.
It is native to a deep and fertile soil but it has great powers of adaptation and is hardy over most of the contiguous United States, where it is extensively used as a hedge plant. It needs severe pruning to keep it in bounds and the shoots of a single year will grow 3 - 6 ft long. A neglected hedge will soon become fruit-bearing. It is remarkably free from insect enemies and fungal diseases. A thornless male cultivar of the species exists and is vegetatively reproduced for ornamental use.
Pests and diseases
- ↑ Mabberley, D.J. 1987. The Plant Book. A portable dictionary of the higher plants. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 706 p. ISBN 0-521-34060-8.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Keeler, Harriet L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. New York: Charles Scriber's Sons. pp. 186–189.
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963