Osage Orange Tree Planting


Many types of orange trees produce fruit for eating. Do not mistake the osage orange tree (Maclura pomifera) for one of these. Osage oranges, also known as hedge apples and horse apples, contain numerous seeds in a pithy, tough fruit. The size and shape of the fruits resemble oranges, giving this tree its name. Osage orange trees make sturdy windbreaks and fences along fields and pastures. The long, sharp spines growing along the branches and trunks deter livestock and wildlife.

Step 1

Collect seeds in the autumn, after the fruits fall to the ground. Look for ripe fruit that is uniform in size and color to harvest for seeds. Avoid any rotting fruits or fruits that show signs of mold or bacterial growth. A single osage orange provides around 200 seeds, so avoid gathering numerous apples for your seed harvest.

Step 2

Cut your osage orange in quarters and drop into a bucket of warm water. Allow the fruit segments to rest in the bucket until slightly mushy. This may take several days. Check for readiness by pinching a piece of the fruit between your thumb and forefinger. The seeds are ready to separate when the fruit easily compacts when pinched.

Step 3

Place the bucket of soaking fruit, several pieces of newspaper and a chair outdoors. This job creates a mess, so choose a suitable location outside. Use your hands to rub the seeds from the soggy fruit. Toss the cleaned seeds on the newspaper. Throw away the remaining bits of fruit rind and pith. Loosely fold the seeds into the newspaper, and set it in a cool, dark place while you prepare the soil for planting.

Step 4

Remove existing vegetation from your selected planting site. Cut away any large brush and weeds from the area. Till under the roots of existing vegetation, and rake the area smooth. Use the edge of a hoe to make a small furrow in the soil to form a row of trees for a windbreak or living fence. Make the furrow about 2 inches deep.

Step 5

Place the cleaned seeds in the prepared soil. Lay the seeds about 6 inches apart in the furrow. Smooth the soil over the seeds, covering them with about 2 inches of soil. Mark the ends of the rows with flagged stakes to mark the area of planting. Lightly dampen the soil along the rows after planting. Keep the soil slightly wet until seedlings grow to a height between 3 and 5 inches.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid planting these thorny trees in populated areas or along driveways. The long, sturdy spines can cause injuries to humans and animals and can flatten tires of automobiles.

Things You'll Need

  • Osage orange fruit
  • Knife
  • Bucket
  • Newspaper
  • Chair
  • Tiller
  • Hoe
  • Flagged stakes


  • Great Plains Nature Center: Osage Orange
  • North Carolina State University: Maclura Pomifera
  • "Gardener's Guide to Deer Resistant Plants", Bob Coey, 2004

Who Can Help

  • Franklin County Kansas: How to Grow Osage Orange Trees
Keywords: Osage orange trees, Plant Osage oranges, Windbreak trees

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.