A collector's tree for sure. Hardy orange, or Poncirus trifoliata, is native to northern China and Korea, and is also known as the Chinese Bitter Orange. It’s a semi evergreen small tree that has thick, spiny, dark green shoots and very fragrant white flowers in late spring, and often again in autumn. These sweet smelling flowers are followed by orange fruits that are about 1 to 1 1/2" round. The fruits can be used in jellies but otherwise, are too sour. Nonetheless, they’re highly decorative. Hardy orange is an exotic and fascinating specimen tree but, more practically, it is also a formidable hedge owing to it’s lethal thorns. And since it grows 15 to 20 feet high and up to 16 feet wide, it is the ideal screen or hedge.

Hardy orange likes full sun and is quite adaptable to soil type. It grows across most all of the US, throughout the UK, New Zealand and is well adapted to Australia.

Unlike true citrus, Hardy orange can withstand temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The leaves turn a bright yellow in autumn and the bare thorny green stems provide excellent winter interest.

There is a heavily contorted cultivar called "Flying Dragon", bizarre but beautiful. As usual, this special tree will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant nursery.

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Hardy orange

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A TREE A DAY

2017