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Poncirus trifoliata

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Kemper Code:  E790

Common Name: hardy orange
Zone: 5 to 9
Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rutaceae
Missouri Native: No
Native Range: Central and northern China
Height: 8 to 20 feet
Spread: 6 to 15 feet
Bloom Time: April - May   Bloom Data
Bloom Color: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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Where is this species invasive in the US?

  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General 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.


No serious insect or disease problems. Thorns are vicious.


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.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011

More photos:
  High resolution image available.