Growing Rootstock from Seeds?

ne_flFebruary 14, 2009

There is an orange growing wild in some woods near my house. It seems to be doing well considering recent night time temperatures of 17°F. The fruit is extremely sour and looks like small valencia oranges. I think it's some type of sour orange.

Question: Is it worthwhile to collect some seeds and grow rootstock from this tree and graft budwood of other citrus to it in the coming years?

Thanks you.

Tom Anderson

St. Augustine, FL

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Wild trees are often the Trifoliate Orange, or Japanese Bitter Orange, botanically called Poncirus trifoliata. Check whether the leaves on your tree each consist of three leaflets. If so this is Poncirus, or a hybrid of Poncirus, and will make excellent rootstocks.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 3:12PM
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Thank you for the reply.

The tree doesn't have leaves in triplets. It looks like a normal orange tree. The oranges are round, the size of a baseball, bright orange, very seedy, have skin the thickness of a navel, and peel very easily. The flesh is horribly sour. The skin is not rough like a typical sour orange. It's perfectly smooth and orange like your grocery variety navel. Maybe a variety of sour orange?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 8:30PM
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athagan(z9a N/C Fl)

It may well be a sour orange. They're still fairly common in hammocks across Florida. At one time sour orange was the most common rootstock in the state but with the advent of the tristeza virus its popularity has plummeted. The virus doesn't kill the sour orange, but anything grafted to it instead.

But sour oranges can be useful fruit in their own right. I have one grafted on trifoliate.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 9:44PM
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Thanks Alan. Where can I get trifoliate seeds?


    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 9:13PM
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Certainly the advice on tristeza virus is good -- I'd not recommend putting trees on Sour Orange in Florida for that reason. But even if that weren't a problem, be aware that is against State law to propagate your own citrus trees unless you go through the rigamarole of becoming a licensed citrus nursery. If you don't, and they catch you propagating trees, you can be heftily fined, as well as they will take your trees away and burn them. This is because of the current epidemics of canker and citrus greening diseases.

The only legal way to propagate citrus in Florida, these days, is in properly inspected greenhouses with psyllid-proof screening, positive-pressure entry air locks, an anti-bacterial spray on entering and leaving, and a host of other expensive aspects of the process.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 9:17PM
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