The botanical name for pomifera is Maclura pomifera. You may know it as an Osage orange, mock-orange, horse-apple, hedge, hedge apple, bodark, Bois d’Arc yellow wood, or bow-wood. Pomifera fruit is not oranges at all, but this tree belongs to the mulberry family.
Pomifera trees are deciduous trees native to North America. They grow quickly up to 30 or 40 feet and create a dense canopy spreading 20 to 40 feet. The trees are thorny and form thickets if left unkept, and they are very tough and hearty once established.
Pomifera trees have a unique appearance. The leaves are a large three to six inches long and two to three inches wide. They are a shiny, dark green color and turn bright yellow before falling in autumn. The tree blooms April through June then produces fruit that falls in October and November. The fruit is about four to five inches in diameter, heavy, green, and has a rough texture. The wood is durable and robust, and it has a bright orange hue. The bark has an orange tint and has a deeply furrowed texture.
Pomifera trees were first grown in the early 1800s in the South as a living fence before barbed wire was invented. By the 1850s, the trees were used as live fencing for entire farms. The pioneers used the wood as wheel rims and hubs for horse-drawn wagons, support timbers in mines, posts, and decay-resistant items. The Osage Indians created bows from the wood. The French saw them do this and called the tree Bois d’Arc, the wood of the bow. These trees also make the perfect windbreak and are excellent for furniture making.
Pomifera fruit is inedible, and the juice is milky and acidic. However, in more recent years, pomifera is being studied for its chemical properties. Oil can be produced from the seeds that can potentially be used as biodiesel and for other uses. Pomifera has been studied for its antioxidant properties and its proteolytic enzymes. You can find pomifera oil in beauty products due to its moisturizing and healing properties. It has been beneficial for many people with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Gilman, E. F., & Watson, D. G. (1994 Oct.). Maclura pomifera – Osage-Orange Fact Sheet. The Department of Environmental Horticulture at The University of Florida. http://hort.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/macpoma.pdf
Wynia, R. L. (2011 March). Plant fact sheet for Osage orange (Maclura pomifera). USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_mapo.pdf