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Citrus trifoliata

Japanese bitter orange

A bushy shrub or small tree to 7m tall, with green branches bearing large, stiff thorns to 5cm long, and fragrant white flowers like orange-blossom in spring or early summer, followed by orange fruits 4cm across

Other common names
bitter orange
Chinese citron
see moreflying dragon
golden apple
hardy orange
trifoliate orange
Synonyms
Poncirus trifoliata
Aegle sepiaria

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Size
Ultimate height
4–8 metres
Time to ultimate height
10–20 years
Ultimate spread
2.5–4 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring White Green
Summer White Green
Autumn Green Orange
Winter Orange
Position
  • Full sun
Aspect

South–facing

Exposure
Sheltered
Hardiness
H5
Botanical details
Family
Rutaceae
Native to the UK
No
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Bushy
Potentially harmful
Fruit harmful to skin with sunlight/skin allergen. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling
Genus

Citrus are typically evergreen shrubs or trees, frequently spiny, with simple, leathery, aromatic leaves, usually with winged stalks, and often fragrant white or pink-tinged flowers, followed by large, juicy fruits

Name status

Correct

Plant range
C & S China

How to grow

Cultivation

Grow as a conservatory or greenhouse plant, in a container of loam-based potting compost (JI No. 2) with added grit, in full light, with shade from hot sun. In growth during spring and summer, water freely, and mist daily. Apply fertilisers formulated for citrus, throughout the year, following the manufacturer’s instructions; water sparingly in winter. See citrus cultivation for further information

Propagation

Propagate by seed sown in containers in a cold frame in autumn. Alternatively, take semi-ripe cuttings with bottom heat in summer

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Coastal
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Hedging and screens
  • Flower borders and beds
Pruning

Pruning group 1

Pests

Generally pest-free

Diseases

Generally disease-free

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