Species list


Maclura pomifera

Osage orange

Osage orange, hedge apple, bow-wood (Eng); maclura, madera de arco, naranjo de Osage (Spa).


DID YOU KNOW...? The excellent bows and arrows of the Osage Indians, a North American tribe close to the Sioux, were made with the wood of the ‘Maclura pomifera’ tree. This is why it is popularly known as both the 'Osage orange' and the 'bow-wood'.


This tree contains sticky latex, and has an irregularly spherical crown. It does not generally grow more than 15 m tall. It has orange brown bark that cracks longitudinally with age and sheds in long thin strips. When scratched these smell bad, as do the branches. The twigs are generally armed with thorns up to 6 cm long, arranged in pairs. The leaves measure up to 12 cm in length and are deciduous, simple, and alternate. They have an entire margin and are hairless except for a few hairs that can be found on the veins on the underside. They are ovate-lanceolate or oblong in shape and have a pointed apex. This is a dioecious species, i.e., the trees are either male or female. The yellowish-green male flowers are inconspicuous, and grouped in globose clusters up to 3 cm long. The female blooms have almost no stalks and come together to form globose flower heads. In the summer or autumn fruit develop which are also globose and large in size (up to 15 cm diameter). These are fleshy, and have juicy pulp but are inedible and contain numerous elongated seeds. The fruit are characterised by their wrinkled yellowish-green surface that is vaguely reminiscent of an orange or a small brain. When split open they exude a milky sap.


This tree requires a warm temperate climate and a sunny position, although it does tolerate low temperatures. It prefers cool, fertile soils; it will not grow on saline soils and develops poorly in compacted ground. Even so, it prospers in poor substrates where other species have difficulties. It also withstands drought and wind. It has not been widely cultivated in the Canary Islands, but single specimens and small groups have become established in the wild on the midslopes, or medianías (zones between altitudes of 600 and 1500 m) in the centre and north of Gran Canaria.


The Osage orange originated in the southeastern part of North America (Arkansas and Texas). It is not known why it was introduced into the Canary Islands, but it has become established in the wild in various places across Gran Canaria.