Herbs & Plants

Bitter Orange(Poncirus trifoliata)

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Botanical Name : Poncirus trifoliata
Family : Rutaceae
Subfamily: Aurantioideae
Genus: Poncirus
Synonyms: Aegle sepiaria – DC., Citrus trifoliata– L.’Flying Dragon’
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales
Tribe: Citreae
Species: P. trifoliata

Habitat:- E. Asia – C. and S. China, Korea.  Hedgerows. Woods in mountains and hills in Korea…Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;

A decidious Shrub growing to 3m by 3m at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen from September to November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.

You may click to see the pictures

Tree  with  flower

Tree with fruits


Poncirus is recognisable by the large 3-5 cm spines on the shoots, and its deciduous leaves with three (or rarely, five) leaflets, typically with the middle leaflet 3-5 cm long, and the two side leaflets 2-3 cm long. The flowers are white, with pink stamens, 3-5 cm in diameter, larger than those of true citrus but otherwise closely resembling them, except that the scent is much less pronounced than with true citrus. As with true citrus, the leaves give off a spicy smell when crushed.

The fruits are green, ripening to yellow, and 3-4 cm in diameter, resembling a small orange, but with a finely downy surface. They are very bitter, not edible fresh, but can be made into marmalade; and when dried and powdered, they can be used as a condiment.

The cultivar “Flying Dragon” has highly twisted, contorted stems.
These strange contorted plants are used as Bonsai specimens and also as a dwarfing rootstock for citrus varieties. They are equally hardy as the standard form. Even though they usually come true from seed, they are not considered a separate species.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in an ordinary garden soil, preferably well-drained, but prefers a fertile light sandy soil in a sunny position. A plant is growing and fruiting well in light woodland shade at Cambridge Botanical Gardens. Plants dislike soil cultivation close to their roots and so should either be well mulched to prevent weed growth, or hand weeded. Succeeds in poor acid soils. Plants also succeed in chalk-laden soils. Hardy to about -15°c. Plants have survived -30°c of frost without injury according to one report. The bitter orange hybridizes with Citrus species and could possibly be used in breeding programmes to produce hardier forms of oranges, lemons etc. It could also be of value in conferring disease resistance, tolerance of poorer soils and dwarfing characteristics. The flowers are produced on the previous years wood. The whole plant, but especially the flowers, is strongly aromatic. A very ornamental plant, the fruits are freely formed in south-western Britain. A hedge at Wisley in a semi-shaded position fruits heavily in most years. Another report says that warm autumns are required if the plant is to fruit freely. Fertile seed is produced after warm summers. Plants are relatively short-lived, deteriorating after about 25 years.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Cold stratify stored seed for 4 weeks and sow early spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, June/July in a frame

Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Fruit; Leaves.

Edible Uses: Condiment.

Fruit – cooked. A bitter and acrid flavour, but it can be used to make a marmalade. The fruit is also used to make a refreshing drink. The freshly picked fruit yields little juice but if stored for 2 weeks it will yield about 20% juice, which is rich in vitamin C. Yields of up to 14 kilos of fruit per plant have been achieved in America. The fruit is 2 – 3cm wide, though most of this is the skin. The fruit peel can be used as a flavouring[183]. Young leaves – cooked.

Medicinal Actions & Uses
Antiemetic; Antispasmodic; Carminative; Deobstruent; Digestive; Diuretic; Expectorant; Laxative; Odontalgic; Stimulant; Stomachic; Vasoconstrictor.

The thorns are used in the treatment of toothache. The stem bark is used in the treatment of colds. The fruits contain a number of medically active constituents including flavonoids, coumarins, monoterpenes and alkaloids. The fruit, with the endocarp and seeds removed, is carminative, deobstruent and expectorant. It is used in the treatment of dyspepsia, constipation and abdominal distension, stuffy sensation in the chest, prolapse of the uterus, rectum and stomach. It is milder in effect than the immature fruit and is better used for removing stagnancy of food and vital energy in the spleen and stomach. The unripe fruit is antidiarrheic, antiemetic, antispasmodic, deobstruent, digestive, diuretic, laxative, stimulant, stomachic and vasoconstrictor. It is used in the treatment of dyspepsia, constipation and abdominal distension, stuffy sensation in the chest, prolapse of the uterus, rectum and stomach, shock.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein by us is intended for educational purposes only.Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Other Uses:
Hedge; Rootstock.

Used as a rootstock for Citrus species (oranges, lemons etc). It confers an extra 3°c resistance to the cold[160]. The plant is very thorny and makes an excellent impenetrable barrier or hedge, though this barrier is not very dense. The plants are very tolerant of pruning, they are best clipped in early summer shortly after flowering.

Scented Plants
Flowers: Fresh
The whole plant, especially the flowers, is strongly aromatic.


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