Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Trifoliate Orange - Citrus trifoliata   L.
Members of Rutaceae:
Only member of Citrus in NC.
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Section 6 » Family Rutaceae
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DistributionPiedmont and low Mountains; also Cliffs of the Neuse State Park in Wayne County. Weakley (2018) says it is becoming common in suburban areas.

Native of China; in N.A. PA to IL and KS, south to FL and TX.
AbundanceGenerally rare but locally uncommon.
HabitatMesic to moist forests, alluvial forests, creeksides, along railroad, fenceline.
PhenologyFlowering March-June; fruiting September-October.
IdentificationThis is a large shrub or small tree, to 15-20 feet tall. It is known by its dark green stem and twigs, and wicked long straight thorns. The leaves are small and divided into 3 leaflets. The fruits are spherical, orangish or orange-brown, an inch across. The wood is very hard.
Taxonomic CommentsCheck out Weakley's (2018) comments regarding taxonomy and uses.

Other Common Name(s)
State RankSE
Global RankGNR
State Status
US Status
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieSlopes by Glendon Slate Creek, near Deep River, June 2015. MoorePhoto_non_natural
David WebbMany plants escaped from plantings to edge of woods, 2022. GastonPhoto_non_natural
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