Osage oranges are falling early this year

Winterthur, Delaware, the legacy of Henry Francis du Pont, 1880-1969, American



Osage Orange: mock Orange, hedge apple, bois d’Arc (Maclura pomifera)







A member of the mulberry family; native to a relatively small area of south-central United States,  the Osage orange tree has been naturalized everywhere in the continental US.






An Osage orange tree growing at an angle over a pathway 






The  orange-brown bark of the Osage orange tree looks flaky; however the wood is a hard wood




The tree is dioecious:  needing pollination by flowers of  the alternate sex on another tree to fruit. 

There are two trees fairly close together at Winterthur.  One dropped fruit this year.  Sometimes it is the other which fruits.







Large fruit, here compared to a smallish Yellow Delicious apple)


Until the fruit begins to break down and rot, the skin is hard and feels as you would imagine the surface of the brain to feel if it were hard. That hardness preserves the fruit, of course, because they fall from quite a height.


Not poisonous to Sapiens, it is not eaten by us because it is dry and unpalatable.  Small mammals disperse its seeds.





Cut open


The underside of the skin of an Osage orange





With a faint but distinctly sweet perfume between vanilla and pineapple and not dissimilar to quince.


I was unable, three years ago, to flavour vodka with this orange.


Despite the fragrance of its skin, its white sap is bitter and made me cough.







The colour of this fruit lying on the ground is riveting. 





4 thoughts on “Osage oranges are falling early this year

    1. Have you fashioned something out of it, Carl? I have never seen anything – PA Dutch or modern – made of this wood. Is that to do with its hardness?………..


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