Our plant of the month is Maclura pomifera and the name comes from a Scottish born, American geologist, William Maclure, with 'pomifera' being the Latin for 'fruit bearing'.
The genus Maclura is a member of the Moraceae family and has fifteen varieties. In general they all have thorns, but can be evergreen or deciduous, shrubs, trees or climbers and have male and female flowers on different plants.
It is native to a very wide geographical area: from Eastern Asia to Australia and southern states of the USA down to South America.
Maclura pomifera occurs in the wild in the southern states of the USA. Whilst its actual wood has no value in terms of saleability, it is the tree most planted in windbreaks across North America. And it can also be kept trimmed to form dense hedges.
With its many branches and thorns it makes for an impenetrable hedge which is also resistant to disease and insect damage.
The name Maclura pomifera comes from a Scottish born, American geologist, William Maclure, with 'pomifera' being the Latin for 'fruit bearing'. The common English name 'Osage Orange' comes from the Osage tribe of native American Indians who lived in the Ohio valley which today lies within the state of Kentucky.
The Osage, an offshoot of the better known Iroquois tribe, were renowned as warriors, once ruling great swathes of territory across modern Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, and they used the wood of this tree for their bows.
The Osage Orange has straight, round branches, is deciduous and very thorny when young but, as the tree ages, so the number of its thorns lessens. Its leaves are oval in shape and dark green in colour.
The leaves can reach 10cm in length and, in the autumn, they turn yellow before falling. The flowers are small, cup-shaped and yellow-green in colour (female plants produce single rows of flowers on a short stem, males produce greater masses of flowers in cylinder-shaped groups); all flowers bloom from the end of spring through to early summer.
Fertilised females, from the end of summer all through the autumn, produce a 10-12cm diameter seed head which is again a greenish-yellow in colour.
Maclura pomifera is an extremely hardy plant and even grows well in Ankara, where the winters can be very cold.
It is also at home in the heat along the Mediterranean coast.
It can reach a height of 15m with a spread of 12m.
As previously stated there are male and female trees with only the females bearing fruit.
It is very difficult to distinguish between male and female trees until they are mature, which is at around ten years of age.
The fruit of the Osage Orange ignored by all animals except squirrels who will eat it. It is also used in the manufacture of dyes.
In landscaping Maclura pomifera is a fast growing tree that will reach sufficient size to give good shade within ten years.
If planted for hedging plants should be spaced 150cm apart. As the hedge grows it may be advisable to remove some plants.
This is a tree which is easily grown, thrives in alkaline soil and in times of drought, grows quickly and, whilst not a particularly long-lived tree, it withstands frost, high winds, insects and diseases and, as such, is a valuable addition to any garden.
The Palm Centre, Koycegeiz
For a wide range of special plants visit the areas best nursery, The Palm Centre at Köyceğiz.
It is open daily between 1st June – 31st October but you can visit at any other time by appointment.
Access to plant sales is free but a fee is payable to look around the extensive nursery.
Just ring or email (English is spoken):
Tel : +90 252 262 28 92
Fax : +90 252 262 51 61
Website : http://www.palmiyemerkezi.com
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