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Osage-Orange-THUMB.jpg

Osage Orange

I found this large fruit while hiking along the Root River Parkway in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was the size of a grapefruit and there were lots of them lying underneath a tree. Do you know what it is?

The large fruit is from an osage orange. It is also known as hedge apple and botanically as Maclura pomifera. Many of these trees were planted in the Great Plains during the dust bowl era to create windbreaks that would protect other plantings and prevent soil erosion. The plantings extended into the Midwest where you can still find scattered plantings. The large fruit are quite messy and limits this plants usefulness in home landscapes. Though some gardeners believe the fruit help repel spiders. They place whole or slices of the fruit near doorways and on windowsills. One friend of mine created some unique jewelry from slices of the fruit. The large tree is a fast grower and can reach heights of 30 to 40 feet with a spread of 20 to 40 feet. Osage orange is hardy in zones 4 to 9 and grows best in full sun. This tough tree is very tolerant of various soil conditions and is drought tolerant once established.

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