Maclura pomifera - (Raf.) Schneid.
Other Common Names: osage orange
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Maclura pomifera (Raf.) Schneid. (TSN 19102)
French Common Names: bois d'arc
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.134467
Element Code: PDMOR0C010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Mulberry Family
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Urticales Moraceae Maclura
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Maclura pomifera
Taxonomic Comments: Native range not well determined, apparently in central U.S., now widely naturalized in northern and eastern USA as well. According to Flora of Great Plains (1986), Gleason and Cronquist (1991) and Weakley (1996), M. pomifera is native to TX, OK, AR and perhaps LA; it is naturalized, escaped, or adventive elsewhere.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 15Aug2015
Global Status Last Changed: 15Aug2015
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Native range difficult to determine; species is now widely planted, and commonly escapes.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4N5
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (04Nov2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNA), Arkansas (SNR), California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNR), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNA), Michigan (SNA), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (SNR), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (S5), Utah (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA)
Canada Ontario (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALexotic, AR, CAexotic, COexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, FLexotic, GAexotic, IAexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, LA, MAexotic, MDexotic, MIexotic, MOexotic, MSexotic, NCexotic, NEexotic, NJexotic, NMexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, OK, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, TX, UTexotic, VAexotic, WAexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic
Canada ONexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Low
Rounded I-Rank: Low
I-Rank Reasons Summary: This species persists from previous extensive plantings and in much of the U.S. can spread aggressively into disturbed areas and lower-quality habitats such as abandoned pastures and drainages. However, It does not readily invade high-quality natural communities. Its impact on native biodiversity is certainly not negligible, but neither is it thought to be significant.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Low
I-Rank Review Date: 16Dec2005
Evaluator: Maybury, K.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Native to Texas and small parts of Oklahoma, and Arkansas. See map in Little (1971). Some authors also include Louisiana in in its native range.

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: Naturalized elsewhere, especially the eastern U.S. (FNA 1997).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Widely naturalized from very extensive hedgerow plantings in earlier times.

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: In a preserve in California, lower branches on older trees began to die causing a significant fire hazard (R. Waegell, pers. comm.) No other reports of abiotic ecosystem alteration.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:High/Moderate significance
Comments: This thicket-forming tree invades prairies/grasslands, especially those that have been moderately to severely impacted by grazing (Smith 2004, T. Smith, pers. comm.; C. Freeman, pers. comm.). Will establish in these areas in the absence of annual haying and fire, or other active management (C. Freeman, pers. comm.).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Significant alterations in community composition have been reported or are feared in riparian forests in the Central Valley of California (Meyers-Rice and Tu 2001). In one of these areas, although the trees did not form dense stands, older trees did eliminate plants in the understory (R. Waegell, pers. comm.). In other areas, this tree is known to form thickets in grasslands (C. Freeman, pers. comm.; T. Smith, pers. comm.).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Unknown
Comments: No definite reports of disproportionate impacts but chemical substances produced by the tree have long been thought to be repellant to insects, bacteria, and fungi (the rot- and termite-resistant wood has long been used for fence posts).

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Low significance
Comments: Apparently Osage-orange can invade high quality riparian forests (Meyers-Rice and Tu 2001) but it is most commonly and characteristically a plant of disturbed, low-quality sites such as abandoned hedgerows, fencerows, pasturelands, ditch banks, etc. (Burns and Honkala 1990, Hickman 1993, Smith 2004). When it does invade high-quality forests, at least in Missouri, it is only as an occassional tree along streambanks; it doesn't grow beyond the streambanks due to shade intolerance nor does it "take over the streambanks" (T. Smith, pers. comm.). Similarly, only occassional, scattered individuals are found in high-quality grasslands, usually in draws, ravines, and other drainages where there is shelter from fire along with some disturbance from waterflow (C. Freeman, pers. comm; T. Smith, pers. comm.).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: General range is most of the eastern half of the conterminous U.S. and isolated areas in the West (see maps in FNA 1997, Kartesz 1999).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Some negative impacts on biodiversity presumed in most areas.

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High/Moderate significance

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:High significance
Comments: Various riparian and non-riparian forests and woodlands, savannas, prairies in many parts of the U.S.

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: No reports of rapid expansion and assumption is that range is not decreasing markedly either.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Not winter hardy in the northern Great Plains, Alaska, or in northern New England (Gilman and Watson 1994) so no range expansion possible there. Possible further range expansion in California and the Pacific Northwest? There is currently only one collection in Oregon herbaria. In Washington State, persisting (and reproducing a bit) where planted in a couple of locations, but not thought to be spreading (F. Caplow, pers. comm.).

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Still planted and available from some mail-order / internet nurseries. (However, the plant is dioecious and many cultivars sold are non-fruit-producing males.) Seeds are sold as a natural pesticide by several sources on the Web. Long-distance dispersal other than by humans is probably infrequent as the fruits are unpalatable (to humans) and very large, often weighing more than 2 lbs (Burnes and Honkala 1990). Squirrels do eat the fruit and transport the seeds (Gilman and Watson 1994).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Low significance
Comments: Inferred.

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Low significance
Comments: In general, this species appears to persist from previous plantings, and spread and establish in new areas only with disturbance. Natural regeneration requires exposed mineral soil and full light (Burnes and Honkala 1990). In Missouri, does not readily invade high-quality natural communities; only occasional individuals seen except in areas with substantial disturbance (T. Smith, pers. comm.). In Kansas, primarily invades moderately to severely disturbed plant communities (C. Freeman, pers. comm.). In Illinois, noted spreading into badly disturbed areas and along the edges of low-quality woodlands, but not in good-quality natural areas (B. Dolbeare, pers. comm.) In Tennessee and other parts of the southeastern U.S., it is generally found in heavily disturbed areas (A. Bishop, pers. comm., Weakley 2005) In one high-quality riparian area in California, it appeared to be reproducing quite agressively, but for unknown reasons, it does not appear to be as aggressive in other areas in California (R. Waegell, pers. comm.). In Washington State it is occasionally seen along the Snake River and tributaries and also persists at old homesteads (C. Bjork, pers. comm. to F. Caplow).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance
Comments: A serious problem in New South Wales, Australia (North West Weeds 2004) but in riparian areas; probably similar to habitats invaded in California.

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Moderate significance
Comments: Large numbers of seeds produced and can also spread vegetatively (Burns and Honkala 1990). Resprouting from stumps and root suckers is vigorous (Smith 2004).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Low

17. General Management Difficulty:Moderate significance
Comments: Because of vigorous resprouting, repeated cutting may be necessary, followed if possible (where impacts on non-target species can be controlled) by herbicides applied to the cut surfaces (Smith 2004). Gummy bark makes this tree somewhat hard to cut (M. Tu, pers. comm.). For areas where the trees are abundant, burning or chipping is required after cutting because debris is very decay resistant (Smith 2004). In grasslands, periodic burning prevents or hinders reestablishment (Smith 2004, C. Freeman, pers. comm.)

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Low significance
Comments: Relatively low for getting the trees removed but reestablishment in grasslands must be controlled by periodic burning or other methods. For riparian areas periodic monitoring and pulling of seedlings might be possible.

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Low significance
Comments: Apparently can be controlled effectively without great non-target damage if herbicide application is done carefully or not at all (see Smith 2004).

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:High significance
Comments: The many plantings on private lands will provide a source for re-infestation.
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 11Oct2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Morse, Larry E. (1994), rev. L. Morse (2002)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Burns, R.M. and B.H. Honkala, tech. coords. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods. Agriculture Handbook 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC.

  • Deam, C. C. 1940. Flora of Indiana. Division of Forestry, Dept. of Conservation, Indianapolis, Indiana. 1236 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 1997. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Vol. 3. Magnoliophyta: Magnoliidae and Hamamelidae. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxiii + 590 pp.

  • Gilman, E. F. and D. G. Watson. 1994. Maclura pomifera. Fact sheet ST-368. U.S. Forest Service and Southern Group of State Foresters fact sheet adapted from fact sheets of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Agricultural Sciences. Univ. of Florida, Gainseville.

  • Hickman, J. C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 1400 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Little, E.L., Jr. 1971. Atlas of the United States trees. Vol. I. Conifers and important hardwoods. Miscellaneous Publication No. 1146. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 200 pp.

  • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.

  • Meyers-Rice, B. and M. Tu. 2001. Weed management plant for the Cosumnes River Preserve, Galt, California, 2001-2005. The Nature Conservancy.

  • North West Weeds. 2004 (last updated). Website of noxious weeds in NSW, Australia available: Accessed 2005.

  • Smith, T. E. 2004. Missouri vegetation management manual. Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City. Available on-line:

  • Swink, F., and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region. Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.

  • Weakley, A. S. 2005. Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia. Draft as of June 10, 2005. UNC Herbarium, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill. Available online: Accessed 2005.

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