Heirloom & Perennial Ltd

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Maclura pomifera, Osage Orange

£0.79

Maclura Pomifera is often grown as a hedge in N. America and Europe, it is very tolerant of severe pruning, makes an effective stock-proof barrier. 

This species is also used in shelterbelt plantings.

Prefers a well-drained soil in full sun. Succeeds in poor soils and also in dry ones. Plants are fairly tolerant of maritime exposure. They dislike waterlogged soils.

A yellow dye is obtained from the bark of the root and the wood. Green and orange can also be obtained from it.

The sap of the fruit is used as an insect repellent. It is said to be effective against cockroaches. The bark is a source of tannin.

Wood - coarse-grained, exceedingly hard, heavy, flexible, very strong, very durable, silky, lustrous. It weighs 48lb per cubic foot. One of the most durable woods in N. America, it is seldom used commercially, but is used locally for fence posts,piers, bows etc and makes an excellent fuel.

Dormant mature plants are hardy to about -20°c though the young growth in spring can be cut back by late frosts and young plants can be damaged in cold winters. Plants require hot summers to fully ripen their wood if they are to thrive in areas with cold winters.

Pre-soak stored seed for 48 hours in warm water and stratify for 2 months at 4°c then sow in a cold frame. Germination is normally good. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

If growing larger quantities of plants, it is probably best to sow the seed in an open seed bed. Grow the plants on for a couple of years in the seed bed before planting them out into their permanent positions.

One report suggests that the fruit is edible but this is surely a mistake - although very large, the fruit is harsh, hard, dry and astringent. The fruit does, however, contain an anti-oxidant which can be used as a food preservative, especially for oils. The heartwood and the root yield a non-toxic antibiotic that is useful as a food preservative.

The milky sap can cause dermatitis in some people.

 

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