Osage orange can be found in nearly every area of
the United States with its major concentration found in the Great
Plains area. Native to southern Oklahoma and northern Texas, osage
orange was originally planted as natural hedges to serve as fencing
The name of this tree comes from the Osage Indians that lived in
the tree's native areas, and from the orange-peel aroma from the
Mature osage orange trees are reported to reach
50 feet (15 m) in height, and have a trunk diameter of about 2
feet (60 cm). The sapwood is a light yellow color, and the heartwood
is usually a greenish-yellow, or golden-yellow to bright orange
when it is first cut. The heartwood turns russet-brown with exposure
to the air, and ages to expose dark streaks of color. The grain
is straight and closed, and can be compared to the grain of black
locust. Decorative mottles are sometimes found on some pieces.
One of the strongest properties of osage orange
is its high resistance to decay and weathering. This property
and its resistance to humidity makes it a popular wood to use
as fence posts.
Although not a common wood to be used for turning, you can find
some beautiful pieces done with osage orange.
Osage orange's grain pattern and texture make it a good wood
for gluing, although due to its hardness, it can be hard to machine.
The wood is good for kiln drying. A moderate kiln schedule is
recommended. It is also not recommended to use oil finishes with
osage orange as it speeds up the color change.
More information about osage orange can be found at www.gpnc.org/osage.htm