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Maclura pomifera

Maclura pomifera
Maclura pomifera

A thank-you note to Vicki of the eastern USA aka Vicki's Pics@Flickr is deserved today for sharing her photographs (original 1 | original 2 | BPotD Flickr Group Pool). Much appreciated!!

Osage-orange (or a dozen other common names – see the Wikipedia entry on Maclura pomifera) is presently native to Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas in the USA, but is also thought by some to have been extirpated from Missouri and Louisiana. Due to cultivation, though, it is widely naturalized throughout the US and southern Canada.

A few of its common names, hedge-apple and hedge ball, reflect its main traditional economic use. Prior to the invention of barbed-wire, hedges of osage-orange were used as fencing for cattle. After barbed-wire was developed, though, osage-orange still had a role to play; posts for barbed-wire fences due to its wood properties. From the Silvics of North America entry on Maclura pomifera: “Osage-orange heartwood is the most decay-resistant of all North American timbers and is immune to termites. The outer layer of sapwood is very thin; consequently, even small-diameter stems give long service as stakes and posts. About 3 million posts were sold annually in Kansas during the early 1970's [sic]. The branch wood was used by the Osage Indians for making bows and is still recommended by some archers today.

The Plants for a Future database details some of the other economic uses of osage-orange, including shelterbelt plantings, dyes, fuel and (potentially) insect repellents (for the latter, see this factsheet from Iowa State University Horticulture).

Photographs of the entire plant are available from Vanderbilt University's Bioimages: Maclura pomifera.

On a different topic, Botany Photo of the Day will be publishing its one-thousandth entry sometime next month. This is one of those good news / bad news things. The good news is that it is quite the achievement by the community of folks who have built up around BPotD: those who share their images (and sometimes words), those who comment, and those who visit and enjoy. You've helped keep BPotD going far beyond the original predictions for its success.

The bad news, though, is that I'm finding it more difficult to meet the daily responsibility of researching and posting. The work required to create entries in advance before trying to leave town for a few days or weeks has often meant delays while the work gets done (cutting in on photography time!). Next year, I am looking forward to more sleep, more freedom and more spontaneity.

So where does that leave BPotD? We've had some casual discussions at the garden about it, so I have some investigations to make about options. My long-term preferred option is to have a science writing / photography intern share in the duties, but we need to determine if this will be possible. In the short-term, though, it is likely that BPotD will go on a brief hiatus after the thousandth entry or so, since it will occur during the last week of December.


Please do not let us go without the daily posts for too long, a BRIEF hiatus is ok, but - we cannot do without you for very long AT ALL.

I LOVE the daily pics..........

You are MUCH appreciated.

We moved onto our present property in 1956. Prior to that time it was a truck farm. They must have used the Osage Orange as a hedge, because they are growing all along the roadsides. As a kid, I loved picking them apart.


Thank you for this work of nature and art. The past year I have enjoyed looking at natures beauty through your work and choices (lens & filters). I'll miss both. As to the future, if need be I'll adapt but consider the loss significant. Best wishes and wisdom to you Sir. Tom G.

I will miss BPotD if you go away! Great photographs and always very interesting posts.

Osage orange wood is the densest North American nativ wood. It is also one of the most beautiful used for woodturning, starting out fresh as wonderful oranges with black, oxiding over time to wonderful warm browns with black.

As a kid in Central Illinois, the dense thickets were THE place for birding and wildlife.

And the hard, fleshy fruit with sticky white sap were perfect for exploding with a baseball bat in a pickup game!

When I became a bowhunter, I made my first laminated double re-curve bow out of osage orange veneers and wood. In short, it's a tree for all purposes.

I have read one history of use which states that Native Americans transported the seeds and planted it all around the Mid-Western plains. True or not, I don't know.

Sadly, many of the great windbreaks of osange orange that were planted during the depression are being bulldozed for more valuable farmland. How soon forgotten are the lessons of the dust bowl.

Since I have found BPoD, I have fell in love with the images and the information. If you go on hiatus, please don't go for too long. Any day that goes by without BPoD is one without learning about the amazing world of plants and seeing the beautiful images. If you go, perhaps you can give us some 'reruns,' starting with BPoD #1.

Congratulations on your upcoming 1000th post! I've been a subscriber for just a few months, but thoroughly enjoy the pictures.

Although I love the daily pictures, if it's too much, then a weekly picture would be nice, or perhaps weekend pictures. Just don't cut us off completely!

I live in north TX and we have always called this "horse apple." It's certainly the same plant, though, and now I realize why it's always along a fence row! Thanks!


I love my daily pic and the info that goes with it!!
Don't stop, please!!

No need to panic – the worst case scenario is the site becomes “Botany Photo of the Sometime” until a sustainable system is found. I would enjoy mentoring students to do science writing and photography, while having the flexibility to add my writings and photographs on occasion.

I love this site. I view it every day starting as widget on my Macintosh computer "dashboard," after which I click on the picture and get the full story of the daily subject on the web page. Surely there is an arrangement you could make with an intern who has the passion and talents that you do to keep this treasure going! And thank you for the treasure.

I would also miss the site!

I think using interns is a great idea. They don't necessarily have to be botany students either. Does UBC have any technical writing or technical communications classes or fields of study? Or journalism students, who frequently end up in technical writing because it pays better. Often, those fields of study require an internship.

After all, the site is about a technical subject (botanical photo), researching the subject, and writing about it...that is technical writing at its heart.

Just chiming in with my appreciation for the BPOD!

Phew, BPotS sounds good to me!

Love the Osage Orange photos! There is one tree that grows along a road near my house (in southeastern PA) and when I spot a fallen orange I have to leap out of my car and snatch it up before someone rudely runs it over. Good thing it's not a busy road! I have collected three so far this fall. They are in a bowl on my counter!

Daniel, many thanks for your dedication in bringing us these wonderful daily emails. Thanks to you I am now seriously into hostas and bought a new camera after a reading a recent discussion on the page! You brighten all our lives.

This comment was received from Gary Z. of Davis, California via email (shared by permission):

Hi Daniel,

If you have to leave for a period of time just repeat post - (reruns) - of some of your favorite plant photos. I know that I have not seen them all.

Another possibility would be to have guest photos and descriptions of plants.

Regarding the Osage Orange - Many Moons ago on a Friday, I was reading about the Osage Orange and Loggerhead Shrikes in the book "PrairyErth" by Least Heat Moon. He told how the Loggerhead Shrikes would impale their prey on the thorns of the Osage Orange. The next day I went for a bicycle ride, and I saw some Osage Orange trees, and in the trees was a Loggerhead Shrike, which I thought was pretty neat - Serendipity!

I enjoy the photos.

As kids we called them "monkey brains" (probably due to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). Very fun to throw and splat with their "shaving cream" center.

Shrikes are some of my favourite birds, likely because I remember (as a kid) seeing paintings of them using barbed-wire to impale their prey. Gary's story reminded me of that, of course.

Unfortunately, loggerhead shrikes are in decline.

Touching on one of Gary's suggestions – another idea we had bandied about was to share BPotD with other similarly-sized institutions from around the globe (i.e., relatively small), but that will require a bit more planning to make the change.

> If you go, perhaps you can give us some 'reruns,' starting with
> BPoD #1.

Now there's an idea! I haven't been subscribed for very long, and would love to see them all from the beginning, with only an occasional "new" post - since they'd all be new to me!

How I hope you can find someone to keep the daily posts coming! I look forward to the wonderful and varied photos each day. Thank you, Daniel, for the effort you put into the photos and writing.

We lived in Kansas for four years during the 70s. I remember seeing the Osage Orange hedges occasionally. My aunt in Oklahoma and others made crafts out of the fruit. People dried the fruits, sliced them, put them on a stick or twig, and used them in dried flower arrangements--very interesting shape to complement the flowers and seedpods.

As a web site designer, I understand the amount of work this takes. You definitely need an intern that would not only maintain the site, but research answers to question.

This is great though. Have a good rest if you decide to take the hiatus. We'll miss you!!

When I lived in Southeast Oklahoma they were called Osage Oranges or Beau d'Arcs. People cut them open and put them around their houses on the outside to discourage roaches. They would discourage me, too, as they really stink!

I've been reading your plant of the day for quite awhile and throughly enjoy it, and usually learn something new from it! The pictures are always beautiful and sometimes thought provoking. I would truly miss it also. I moved to Washington state from Oklahoma seven years ago and it's helped me become familiar with the plants up here. I hope someone can take over the postings if you find it too much to do, perhaps making a once a week thing even.

'another idea we had bandied about was to share BPotD with other similarly-sized institutions from around the globe (i.e., relatively small), but that will require a bit more planning to make the change.'

That would be great. Mexico, South Africa, Australia, Hawaii.
I love the succulents of Mexico and South Africa; and the Proteas of Australia.

Your's has been a site that I have anxiously waited to see each morning when I retrieve my email. I not only look for the plants, but for the information that you share with us. I too feel that your leaving is a shame, and like the others, would hope that you would consider rerunning your photos from #1 as I too joined the list very late. I can only hope you can find some magical way to keep the daily, or even weekly photos coming. In any event, best regards,
George Vaughan


I doubt that "Osage orange wood is the densest North American nativ[e] wood" as there is at least one species of native ironwood. The wood of the ironwood [fresh or dried] sinks in water, can the same be said of the Osage orange? Anyone?

happy new year daniel

Wow, it's kind of like when somebody dies and then the nice comments about them come pouring out of the woodwork! Nice that you're still around to hear this outpouring, Daniel! I too appreciate both the photos and the educational posts, but I completely understand how this could take over your life. If we have to write somebody in authority at UBC to beseech for funds/staff to continue it, please let us know whom! I promise to buy something from the store if that will help!

Were a position as an assistant to open, would you be so kind as to let us know how to apply? I'm sure many readers other than myself would also be interested.

Hi Daniel,
I've learned so much & seen so many beautiful pictures on BPotD, I can't imagine going to my Inbox & not finding a daily treasure from the plant world. But I've often thought it must take you a lot of time to prepare...I'll look forward to whatever form it evolves into as long as there's something! I wasn't in at the beginning either, and would happily be reminded of all that I've encountered here before, so I like the idea of repeating the series from #1. All the best for a restful vacation at the end of Dec & will wait with baited breath for the 'hybrid'/'new species of' BPotD to germinate in the New Year.

I can't agree more with Ingrid's comments!! Best to you, Daniel, you do brighten a lot of worlds. We all look forward to whatever transforms in BPotD. Take care!

Congratulations on #1000. I know you will figure out what is best for you. I hate to lose this site as I have come to love all the pictures. If only I could take pictures as well as you do. I have learned so much with this site but you need to do what you need to do. We can't please everyone all the time. You also need to take time to smell the flowers as much as we do. Take care in all you do, but I hope to see more then 1000 even if I have to wait for the next year. I'm sure BPotD can think of something that can give you the rest you deserve and all of us the enjoyment of opening that daily e mail.

As I have said many times in the past, each photo of the day and the informantion and links are giving me education I would not else where get. Todays photograph and all the intformation are a help to me as a Master Gardener,certified and I keep up my knowledge from continuing education. Your website has been a a help to find plants of interest and then we find Professor to teach a session for all of us. Then we give workshop or lectures for the everyday gardening public. Of course we are all volunteers. I will look forward to each photo of the day until things change. For you Daniel this is a great thing you have done and I thank you for all your fine work.
With many thanks,

Hi Daniel, I have aready posted my comments. I always read what others have to say. I have never seen so many postings in one day.
Again many thanks for all the fine work . You are appreciated very much.
Thank you,

Daniel--Congratulations on your 1000th! And hooray for you in deciding to take some well-earned time off! How many of us who love our work allow it to intrude on the time we could use for other wonderful activities? I am sure you will find many who'd be overjoyed to work with you on the BPotD project. Thank you again for your dedication to the Art, the Science, and the Passion to Communicate it to us all!

Hi, Daniel - Congratulations on attracting such a supportive readership! While new posts would be the most desirable to me, I agree that older posts - rerun - would be very acceptable. Perhaps consider 'packaging' them into five/week (weekends w/no posts?) segments held together by plant family, country, habitat, category (epiphyte, parasite, carnivore, etc). That way a simpler paragraph could be written for for an entire themed week, and that same paragraph preceed each day's re-entry for that week? Heck, then you could have a year of "refreshed posts" and work less than 15% of what you do now!

However you decide, your work is welcomed and appreciated.



I have been offline for a bit, and one of things I have missed most during that time was the ability to visit this site, and the BPotD was an integral part of that experience. But if it is not possible to get the firstruns, I too agree with the group suggesting reruns. You could start from the first and rerun the the entire history of BPotD without any complaints from this corner. Harry

There used to be an old joke about how for a newborn the oldest joke is new. So indeed to all but a very few the first 635 entries would be a surprise and a delight.
All the ideas are good from less frequent postings to interns to outsourcing - no this one isnt as if no one is responsible then no one is responsible but then again pharma medical research with hundreds of sites or astronomical cooperations simultaneously from the world over or even chess games from anywhere on the planet do work-
come to think of it in this sense this may be the best site of all as one can see pictures and read text and immediately contribute and comment and often get a helpful response- no it is the best site by far much better than my astro med chess polit art etc sites--
as well as repeating all the entries encore di novo noch einmal once again.
The best features just cant be exhausted, the references, the links, the quotes as well as most of the posts make this a very vibrant alive site.
Even the preview feature, one can correct the most howling typos readily.

Daniel, I have enjoyed your daily post almost from the beginning and I appreciate this post, plus the other 999. I know they take a lot of work and research to put together on a daily basis. I do hope someone can take this duty on as I have learned so much, bit by bit, day by day. Congratulations on a job well done and well accomplished!

Thank you all for the comments. I suppose I could have been clearer that post number 1000 is still a month and a bit away - and a lot of things could happen in that time (I could be hit by a car... slip on a rock... who knows?). Then again, I don't mind the congratulations now because it's going to occur when most people are busy for the holidays and the site visitorship declines dramatically.

I'm not too enthused about the idea of reruns, though I suppose I should consider it among the many options.

Thanks Daniel for all of the hard work that you have put into this. It is so very much appreciated. I'll be around to read Decembers too. ;)

Must put in my 2 cents worth! Thank you, Daniel, for all your efforts. BPotD has been my favorite website since I discovered it maybe 2 years ago. I have learned so much. I tell all my botanical friends about it. I just got home (the northeast) from a trip to CA, so I've been reveling in a week's worth of columns. I may have withdrawal issues come the new year, but I will assign myself the task of visitng the pages I have missed. And I'll be happy with BPotS, for sure.

Daniel, this site is so inspiring to so many of us that it would be a shame to lose the continuity. I've enjoyed the postings from the flickr submissions (though I didn't understand where the holiday was for you - didn't you still do the research and writing?) Could the site continue by using more of those submissions with the comments written by the intern, as you mentioned, or reader volunteers, with you doing guest submissions when the spirit moves you? Maybe there would be enough reader volunteers that you would just need someone to receive the entries and post them.

Just catching up to this entry. I have been around since the day Yahoo recommended this site, about 1 month after it started up. At the time I thought it would last between six months to a couple of years at most. The time commitment is too heavy. A person of your talents cannot spend his whole career on a blog. Greater things need doing. You may not find yourself getting that much-desired rest, but maybe you will write a book or two. As for me, I have trouble keeping up with the daily postings. A less frequent schedule would be just fine. And for those who want reruns, everything is out there on the archives at their fingertips whenever they want to find it. Anthony

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