Osage Silk Thorn – x Macludrania hybrida

Osage Silk Thorn 
x Macludrania hybrida
Mulberry Family: Moraceae

This is the only known hybrid of the Osage Orange.

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This Morton Arboretum specimen, from a cutting, is 9 years old.

The only known hybrid of the Osage Orange tree, Maclura pomifera, x Macludrania hybrida André, is an intergeneric cross: x Macludrania = Cudrania x Maclura. Cudrania tricuspidata (Carr.) Bureau is a spiny shrub or small tree, native to China, Japan, and Korea. The Maclura parent is variety inermis. The hybrid is a small tree with yellowish furrowed bark and short, woody spines. [1]

Like the closely related Mulberry, the silkworm thorn fruit is not a true berry, but a collective. Much larger than mulberries, the Che fruit can be up to 2 inches in diameter. The ripe fruits are deep red, containing juicy flesh and small brown seeds. Nearly tasteless when young, they can develop into a delicious, sugary fruit. Sold locally in markets in China and elsewhere in east Asia, the fruit attracts little commercial interest elsewhere. The fruit can stain roofs, driveways or sidewalks, hence the tree should be placed in and isolated location in full sun. [2]

Bark and thorns are reminiscent of the very closely related Osage Orange, Maclura pomifera.

Shrubs or small trees, 1-7 m tall, deciduous. Bark grayish brown. Branchlets slightly ridged, glabrous; spines 0.5-2 cm. Winter buds reddish brown. Petiole 1-2 cm, sparsely pubescent; leaf blade ovate to rhombic-ovate, occasionally 3-lobed, 5-14 × 3-6 cm, abaxially greenish white and glabrous or sparsely pubescent, adaxially deep green and glabrous, base rounded to cuneate, margin entire, apex acuminate; secondary veins 4-6 on each side of midvein, tertiary veins reticulate. Inflorescences axillary, single or in pairs. Male inflorescences capitulate, ca. 5 mm in diam.; peduncle shorter than capitulum. Female inflorescences 1-1.5 cm in diam., axillary; peduncle short. Male flowers: calyx lobes fleshy, margin revolute, apex thick; pistillode pyramidal. Female flowers: calyx lobes with margin revolute, apically shield-shaped; ovary immersed in lower part of calyx. Fruiting syncarp orange red when mature, ± globose, ca. 2.5 cm in diam. Fl. May-Jun, fr. Jun-Jul.

Sunny forest margins, mountain slopes; 500-2200 m. Anhui, Fujian, SE Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Shandong, S Shanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Japan (cultivated), Korea].

The bark fibers are used for making paper, the leaves are used as food for silkworms, the fruit are edible, and the bark is used medicinally. [3]

1. J.D. Burton, USDA Forest Service Silvic Manual, Maclura pomifera (Raf.) Schneid.
NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees
3. Flora of China, Maclura tricuspidata
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Mulberry Family: Moraceae consists of flowering trees, shrubs, herbs or lianas (vines), both evergreen and deciduous; mainly woody and tropical, they are most abundant in Asia.  Moraceae includes both self-supporting and epiphytic (plants that use an immobile object such as another plant, or a building to support their structure) vines. The largest genus is Ficus, with about 750 species of figs.
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