Bois d'arc, Osage orange

Maclura pomifera (Raf.) Schn.

Moraceae (Mulberry family)


Bois d'arc, also commonly named osage orange, is a small to medium-sized tree in the mulberry family growing to 60 feet tall. It is a perennial, cool-season native with white, milky sap.

The deciduous leaves are simple, range from 2 to 4 inches long, and are located alternately along the stem. Young leaves can have a covering of fine hair. The older leaves are hairless and lustrous.

Each twig or branch is armed with stout spines on the angle between the upper side of the twig and the supporting branch. The flowers are very small, greenish and arranged singly along an elongated, unbranched axis.

The noticeable fruit is a syncarp, which is a fruit consisting of many individual small fruits or drupes, such as a blackberry or pineapple. The fruit is globe-shaped or round, yellowish green and 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Its juice is a milky acid.

Bois d'arc was once planted largely for windbreaks or hedgerows. Squirrels feed on the fruit, and whitetail deer and goats browse the leaves.


Bois d'arc grows in deep, moist to semi-moist soils, favoring rich clay soils.