Osage Orange is a fast-growing tree that reaches heights of 30-50 feet. Many urban foresters reel when you suggest this tree because of the thorns and the fruit. Take heart. This tree is dioecoius and only half of the trees have fruit. There are also at least three thornless male trees now available in the nursery trade: 'White Shield', 'Park', and 'Wichita'. 'White Shield' is thornless even when very young and is preferred.
The wood of Maclura is very dense, storm and decay resistant, yet the tree is very fast growing. The foliage is a deep glossy green and shows no signs of deterioration even in severe droughts. Fall color is displayed a little later than average but is a lovely clear or golden yellow. The habit is often wider than tall with the bark having an interesting orange cast.
Osage Orange is virtually pest-free and highly deer resistant. As a member of the mulberry family it offers good potential for increasing diversity in our cities. This plant is incredibly tough and is a remarkable survivor. It tolerates some notably poor soils. Remember how long we have tried to get rid of it? It is time to turn that tenacity in our favor and plant a thornless male in an urban site.
Note: 'White Shield' Osage orange can be purchased from from Sunshine Nursery (contact: Steve or Sherry Bierbich) Clinton, Oklahoma. Phone: 580-323-6259 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information see Osage Orange the Urban Tree List at Cornell University.