Trifoliate Orange, Bitter Orange, Hardy Orange
|This Chinese cousin of the Citrus family is a delightful paradox. The dense, sharply-spined branches create a formidable barrier, but bear delicate, fragrant blossoms. The round, fuzzy, deep yellow fruits look and smell good enough to eat, but the peel tastes terrible and the scant pulp is fibrous and seedy. In winter, the bare branches and spines stay a lively green. Since it is much hardier than Citrus -- taking frost down to 5º F -- hybridizers graft orange and lemon cuttings onto Poncirus to produce hardy "citranges". Cut branches of flowers or fruit make wonderful arrangements, but watch out for the spines. Needs sun and well-drained but moist soil. Will not do well in sandy or alkaline soil. Prune hedges to shape, or to take out dead or damaged branches, just after flowering. To propagate, remove seeds as soon as fruit is ripe and sow immediately outdoors or in a pot. Or, root summer cuttings. The Japanese have developed Poncirus trifoliata monstrosa, a bonsai variety with tiny leaves and curved spines on contorted branches.
Though the fruits are inedible raw, try the cut peel for marmalade, or candied.
Attributes - Poncirus trifoliata
Plant Type: Tree
Bloom Season: Late Spring through Early Summer
Flower Color: White
Height: 8 ft. to 20 ft.
Width: 15 ft.
Sunlight: Full Sun
Climate: Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9