Osage Orange

Osage Orange Fruit
Common Name:
Osage Orange
Botanical Name:
Maclura pomifera
Bloom Time:
Bloom Description:
Inconspicuous flowers for both male and female specimens. Male flowers are greenish-yellow elongated stalks. Female flowers are yellow globe-like heads that bloom on short peduncles (the stalk of a flower cluster or bloom). The female flowers give way to large fruits in late summer.
Trail/Garden Location:
Orchard Trail
Garden Uses:
Osage orange is commonly used as a "living fence" or hedgerow to keep livestock contained. The new growth displays thorns up to 2" long, so residential usage is limited, at best. The large, dense fruits can reach up to 6" in diameter in the late summer, so it is wise not to plant this tree close to a house!
Wildlife Benefits:
The fruit is quite dense, so squirrels are among the only mammals that can penetrate it. Once the fleshy seeds are exposed, the occasional songbird may visit them.
Leaf Type:
The oval leaves are 2-5" long with glossy bright- to dark-green color. The fall color changes to yellow.
Further Information:


NARRATOR: Corrin Troutman, executive director of nearby Compton Gardens, explains the fascinating history of the Osage orange or bodark tree whose French name translates as “bow-wood.”

CORRIN TROUTMAN: As part of Dr. Compton’s legacy at Compton Gardens and which flows through into Crystal Bridges is the native plants of the Ozark plateaus. We really want to showcase those plants in particular since Dr. Compton was so keen on the natural world and the environment and protecting it for future generations. So as you walk along, you’ll notice not only the large majestic trees that are kept on site, but also keep in mind that some of those trees were planted by Dr. Compton in this area. You’ll notice the bodark or Osage orange along the trail. That’s the one that everybody recognizes in the fall when the large green brain-like fruit are dropping to the ground. The bodark is an interesting tree because Native Americans used to seek this tree out because the structure of the wood of the tree is very solid, but yet flexible. So some Native American tribes would utilize this wood to make their bows out of. So as the French came along into the Americas, they had seen this and they named the tree, the bodark.