Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

Osage-orange
Maclura pomifera
Moraceae

Leaves are simple, alternate, deciduous and ovate with a smooth margin. Leaves have a long pointed apex and a long petiole which exudes milky sap when cut. Twigs are gray, zigzag, armed with spines, and with raised leaf scars and sunken lateral buds. Bark is orange-brown and ridged. Fruit is a large ball of drupes that resembles broccoli or "green brains." Form is a shrub often forming thickets or tree up to 9 m (30 ft) in height with a scraggly crown. Osage-orange is found on a variety of sites throughout the east and central U.S. and is shade intolerant. The orange wood was used for bows by Native Americans and in dyes. The unusual fruit is sometimes eaten by squirrels and thickets provide excellent wildlife cover.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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