Maclura pomifera ‘Wichita’
Family: Wichita Osage Orange
Osage Orange is an unusual tree coming from the bleak, harsh areas of south-central North America. In these climates the winters are very cold, spring floods are common, and summer droughts are frequent. Further, the soils are some of the least-fertile in the US, and organic matter is relatively low. Osage Orange has evolved to grow successfully under these difficult situations.
Osage Orange is a member of the mulberry family, and shows the lush, thick green foliage associated with Morus and Ficus spp. This foliage character, coupled with extreme site tolerances makes Maclura pomifera a worthwhile tree to consider for urban planting.
Large fruits and long thorns have limited use of Osage Orange; however, the fruitless and thornless selections are excellent. ‘Wichita’ is one of the best selections; it comes from the west-Kansas plains, where conditions are the harshest. In Melbourne, ‘Wichita’ should thrive with minimal irrigation after one year of establishment, and its thick, vibrant-green foliage will give a lush look to most landscapes. In autumn, the foliage will turn a butter yellow and remain on the tree for up to 4 weeks.
‘Wichita’, as with the other Osage Oranges, is an easy-to-form round-headed tree that can probably be pruned to fit under powerlines. It should be as tolerant of pruning as figs. This tree should be trouble-free and easily-managed in the Australian landscape.
Typical mature height: to 20m with age
Useful in: broad streetscapes, parks
Sites for best growth: most