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Due to Brexit, we are not able to deliver to the UK. We are working on a solution on how we can continue to bring a wide range of Lubera plants to the UK and directly to our customers' homes in the future. However, such a solution will not be available before 2022 or 2023.

Trifoliate orange

Poncirus trifoliata

Trifoliate orange


Article number: 2193654


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£28.90 *

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Product information "Trifoliate orange"

Who does not want a touch of southern lifestyle in his/her garden? The trifoliate, frost hardy bitter orange, which is also known as Japanese bitter orange or hardy orange, will add more than just a touch. Before and at the same time as the sprout of the leaves, Poncirus trifoliata, the Latin, botanical name, develops very large flowers in the spring. They are up to 5 cm in diameter and have an intense fragrance, which immediately transfers the garden friend to a southern region – assuming he/she takes the time to briefly close his/her eyes and inhale the scent. In contrast to the southern lemons and oranges and other citrus fruits, Poncirus trifoliata loses its foliage in autumn, after it has previously turned a beautiful yellow colour. The autumn leaves together with the ripening mandarin-sized fruits, which are yellow to light orange, offer an unforgettable sight. A Mediterranean garden corner should look like this! Of course, this citrus plant (the only citrus plant that is absolutely hardy), which the botanists have assigned to another genus (Poncirus), can also be easily planted in beds. A light winter protection in the first years is sufficient; the thicker wood no longer needs protection after 3 to 5 years. And, of course, the fruits can also be processed into the characteristic bitter orange marmalade.
Short Description
Growth: Loose, zigzag-like growth, with characteristic thorns that are up to 5 cm long; Poncirus trifoliata loses its leaves during the winter after they turn bright yellow
Flowers: Fragrant flowers up to 5 cm in diameter, very similar to normal citrus blossoms, only bigger and more attractive; they appear at the same time as the leaves or in part already somewhat before, which naturally assures them a bit more attention
Fruits: The approximately 5 cm large, orange fruits are ripe in November and fall from the tree. The many seeds are typical as is the fresh, very bitter taste
Use: For making bitter orange marmalade. Can be dried as a spice and used for health purposes against inflammation. The bark is also used for colds
Winter hardiness/overwintering: In the first years, a mild winter protection is necessary, especially against direct exposure to sunlight; older plants are hardy to -20°C, sometimes even to -25°C
• Final size: Height: 2.5 m, width: 2.5 m. Planted together at a distance of 2-2.5 m, an almost impassable, extremely attractive hedge results
Growth, flowering and fruits
This winter hardy trifoliate bitter orange reaches a height of about 2.5 m and has a rather loose habit. This is, however, not to be understood as negative, but it gives the plant a rather characteristic, wild/romantic character. The shoots seem to grow almost zigzag from leaf to leaf and are characterised by the extremely long thorns. So if you want to protect your southern garden corner from intruders, plant a Poncirus trifoliata hedge at distance of about 1-2 m, and then there is almost nothing that can go through it. ;-)
The name Poncirus TRIFOLIATA is derived from the leaves with three leaflets, which are clearly different from the most common or winged leaves of the other citrus varieties. The leaves appear in the spring at the same time or even a bit later than the flowers, which strengthens the ornamental value of this hardy bitter orange. The large, white flowers can reach a diameter of up to 5 cm. Later on in the season approx. 5 cm large, orange fruits develop, which turn yellow with a slight hint of orange when mature. They then fall off the tree in November, almost simultaneously with the bright yellow leaves.
Who should buy a Poncirus trifoliata plant?
Anyone who has always dreamed of a southern garden, but who does not want to deal with citrus container plants and the overwintering process can decide to plant a trifoliate orange! It is easy to cultivate, it does not have any special requirements, it exudes the smell of citrus plants and also the yellow-orange fruits bear witness to the close relationship to citrus plants. Earlier botanists and systematics called them CITRUS trifoliata. And so to speak, as an ingredient, one can then also experiment with the fruits in the kitchen (see below).

Location and overwintering
The trifoliate bitter orange needs to be cultivated in a sheltered spot, protected from the wind. If the soil is permeable and there is no danger of waterlogging, there is nothing more that could hinder the success of the plant. Pests and diseases do not harm this hardy bitter orange; aphids, which occasionally appear from time to time, also cause no damage to the plant, which usually continues to grow without any external aid. Sometimes too calcareous soils may lead to iron chlorosis (brightened leaf blades); however this can be easily remedied with an iron chelate fertiliser (e.g., Frutilizer Instant Solution). The still young plant should be somewhat protected during the first 3-5 years in the winter. Above all, the trunk and shoots should be insulated against the winter sun so that the temperature differences between the day and night do not lead to cracks in the bark and other damage. As soon as the wood is thicker the plant is absolutely winter hardy - if you substrate the quarter-century winters with temperatures lower than -25°C. In the case of persistent, extremely low temperatures, simple protecting the stem can also help with larger plants. The great advantage of Poncirus trifoliata compared to its citrus relatives is probably the fact that it loses its foliage in autumn and thus does not have to suffer due to water loss in the winter by means of the sun-kissed, breathing leaves.
Can Poncirus trifoliata also be grown in a container?
Of course Poncirus trifoliata can also be grown in a container. The trifoliate bitter orange develops into a true ornamental plant. However, it must always be taken into account that the winter hardness in the pot is considerably less than when the bitter orange is planted out. In the pot, Poncirus should be protected at a temperature around 0°C or overwintered together with other citrus plants at 5-12°C. The reason for this somewhat contradictory behaviour lies in the fact that the plant in the pot reacts sensitively to warm temperatures in the winter (inter alia, to the direct exposure to the sun) and then comes out of its winter rest too early. So if you have the possibility to plant this bitter orange out in your garden, do it so that you can fully enjoy the benefits of this plant.
Can the fruits of the trifoliate bitter orange be eaten?
Here the opinions differ. But one thing is for sure: the oranges of Poncirus trifoliata are not very pleasing when eaten fresh right off the tree. There are far too many seeds in the fruits and far too many bitter substances and resinous oils, among which the chemical substances neohesperidin and poncirin are responsible. However, the fruit is used for many different uses, especially in the kitchen and traditional medicine. Marmalade can be made from the trifoliate bitter orange – and much more.
As bitter the trifoliate orange tastes as a whole fruit, so surprisingly lemon-like is the pure juice. For the production of bitter orange marmalade, the seeds and also to a large extent the peels are removed, the fruits are cut into small pieces and boiled with little water until the individual pieces are largely but not quite dissolved. Then the same amounts of jam sugar are added – and the next Sunday morning brunch can be enjoyed with your own bitter orange marmalade. Yes, it is a bit bitterer than the English marmalade from Citrus aurantium, from the real bitter orange, but it is quite good and appetising. However, even lovers of fruity, rather low-sugar marmalades will not get around adding the same amount of jam sugar to the fruit just simply needs it. An additional culinary use results from dried fruit pieces, which are ground and used as a spice (sour-bitter-sweet) for Asian cuisine.
Use in traditional and modern medicine
In traditional Chinese and Asian medicine, the fruits of Poncirus trifoliata are attributed to effects against allergic inflammations, which is not surprising due to the bitter substances poncirin and neohesperidin. They have a strong antioxidant effect and they are even being tested for tumour-inhibiting effects. Somewhat more exotic is certainly the use of the thorns, which is claimed in traditional medicine to be used against toothaches (fighting pain with pain? Were they ground and used as powder?). The bark of the trunk is also said to be effective against colds. But where would your tree be if you used its ingredients for your household pharmacy? Overall, however, the versatile, health-promoting use has shown the potential of the plant for thousands of years.
Origin of Poncirus trifoliata
Poncirus trifoliata comes from northern China and Korea and was imported to Europe for the first time during the middle of the 19th century.
For breeding frost hardier citrus varieties based on Poncirus trifoliata at the beginning of the twentieth century, the trifoliate bitter orange was intensively used in Swingle's breeding efforts, which had the goal of growing frost (spring) hardy citrus for the citrus cultivation in Florida (!). The crossing with most citrus species is quite unproblematic, but the characteristic bitterness of most hybrid fruits remains, so that one or two additional backcrosses with fruit citrus varieties are necessary in order to improve the quality of the fruit in the direction towards fresh consumption. On the other hand, many hybrids show improved frost resistance between -8 and -12°C. Unfortunately, too few attempts were made in Central Europe to make general statements and to make a reliable choice of varieties for different sites. At Lubera, we have begun to test many of these hybrids planted in the soil in normal gardens. However, a few years will pass before the results will be very conclusive.
  • Available April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November
  • Use greenhouses/winter gardens, for containers, South- and West-facing walls, as a specimen plant
  • Hardiness hardy
  • Soil moist, dry, moderately heavy, light, neutral, slightly acidic
  • Location full sun
  • Flower Colour white
  • Leaf Colour green

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Aug 10, 2020

Grafted or grown from seed? (Ash)

Is the poncirus trifoliata grown from seed or grafted. I'm asking because I'm looking for a plant that's already fruiting since I don't want to wait 5 or 6 years for it to fruit

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