Hardy Orange is an introduced perennial woody shrub in
the Citrus family (Rutaceae). It occurs statewide in Alabama.
Hardy Orange grows in pastures, on fence rows, in vacant lots,
and along streams. It is usually a multi-trunked shrub with green
stems. The stems are armed with large thorns.
The leaves are alternate, deciduous and trifoliate.
In the spring it produces showy white flowers with five
petals. These are followed by a hairy fruit that is about the
size of a golf ball
The fruit becomes yellowish orange when it matures. The
fruit is very seedy and tart, but can be used to make drinks
and marmalade. Processing the fruit often leaves a resin-like
residue that is difficult to remove.
Hardy Orange is used as a root stock for grafting other
citrus species. It is the most cold hardy of the citrus species,
and other species are hardier when grown on this rootstock. It
has also been widely planted as a hedge to contain livestock
or prevent trespassing. Many birds prefer to nest in this species
as it is difficult for many predators to reach their nests because
of the spines.