Identification of Citrus Thorn Bush

vaitiskisOctober 6, 2006

My neighbor has a Citrus Thorn Bush that we do not know the name. The bush has 2" - 3" thorns with golfball size fruit of a deep yellow color. The outside skin/rind is pitted like an orange/lemon with a bit of a fuzzy feel. The mature fruit is toward the center of the bush and the new green ones are at the very ends. Inside, the fruit has very little pulp with mostly 3/8" oval size seeds. The oil from the rind cannot be washed off with soap, mineral spirits does best. The bush is approximately 7' tall. Anyone know the name? and what possible uses for this plant? Thanks.

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Almost certainly the trifoliate orange, Poncirus trifoliata. It's closely enough related to true citrus that it is used as an understock for grafting. I don't think eating the fruits would kill you, but there is nothing I'm aware of that would make them in any way pleasant to eat. It's just grown as an ornamental plant, or as a very effective privacy hedge. I've heard that in southern Missouri, it is used around nuclear missile silos, in that it will keep terrorists out better than fences and razor ribbon.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 4:13PM
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Vait, have the fruit matured yet? How long have they been on the branches?

Malcolm, I thought Poncirus fruit was orange when mature? Are they yellow before changing? Toni

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 7:01PM
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Iso propanol (rubbing alcohol) does an excellent job of removing the residue from the trifoliata orange.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 9:01PM
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Toni, I think the final peel color is like that of oranges -- it varies with the weather. Ours mature to a greenish yellow, just like sweet oranges do. I'd suspect that in California, they'd mature to a deep, beautiful orange. Golfball size rules out a citrumelo, which would be true yellow. And a citrange would be even deeper orange than pure P.t. So I'm assuming it really is pure Poncirus. Also the fact that it is apparently cold-hardy in northern Virginia rules out most other citrus-like plants.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2006 at 7:14AM
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Malcolm, is the cool temps of CA the reason for color change? I was reading something about that in a plant book about a yr wasn't only about Pt but other citrus fruit as well..Toni

    Bookmark   October 8, 2006 at 3:18PM
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Yes, combination of cooler night temps and lower humidity. Actually the temps affect color; humidity affects peel thickness and surface texture. But of course, low humidity is what allows cool night temps. We spend much of the year with the dewpoint above 70 F, so cannot cool off much at night. We're to go to 56F at the end of this week -- first time below 60 since April, I believe. And it's only in the last week or so that we've been going below 70 at night.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 8:46AM
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