Poncirus trifoliata
Common Name: hardy orange
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rutaceae
Native Range: Central and northern China
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 8.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest, Thorns
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Prune as needed after flowering. May not be reliably winter hardy in northern parts of USDA Zone 5 where it should be sited in a protected location.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hardy orange, a citrus relative, is a thorny, well-branched, deciduous shrub or small tree which typically grow 8-15' (less frequently to 20') tall. Three-lobed (trifoliate as per the species name) leaves emerge yellowish-green in spring, turn glossy dark green in summer and fade to yellow in autumn. Spiny, dark green stems. Fragrant, white, 4-7 petaled flowers (to 2" diameter) appear singly in spring. Flowers give way to 1-2.5" diameter fruits (miniature downy hardy oranges) which ripen to an attractive yellow in the fall. Fruits of this citrus relative are edible (lemony flavor), but are very acidic and seedy. Fruits can used to make marmalade (use peel zest and pulp), but are usually left on the tree where they persist well into winter and often provide significant ornamental interest.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Thorns are vicious.

Garden Uses

A classic hedgerow plant that is virtually impenetrable due to its formidable thorns. Makes an excellent hedge, particularly for remote or uncommonly frequented areas of the landscape. Also an effective accent or specimen in the sense of being an interesting and unusual plant.