Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Citrus Tree That Will Grow in Tennessee!

Cindy's Flying Dragon Bush
I would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes.  Tennessee actually gets a little snow during the winter.  Granted it is rare and warrants an immediate trip to the grocery store for provisions, but it does happen!  I grew up here and until Friday had never seen a citrus tree growing and surviving outside.  I was at Cindy Moonrose's home, a local foraging teacher, snooping around her garden.  I saw a bush/tree like plant with many thorns and asked her what it was.  She said it is one of the only citrus plants that will grow in our area.  It was called the "Flying Dragon."  Her plant was several years old and had survived outside without any problems.

Flying Dragon information according to Wikipedia:

"Trifoliate Orange, Poncirus trifoliata (syn. Citrus trifoliata), is a member of the family Rutaceae, closely related to Citrus, and sometimes included in that genus, being sufficiently closely related to allow it to be used as a rootstock for Citrus. It differs from Citrus in having deciduous, compound leaves, and pubescent (downy) fruit.

It is native to northern China and Korea, and is also known as the Chinese Bitter Orange. The plant is fairly hardy (USDA zone 5) and will tolerate moderate frost and snow, making a large shrub or small tree 4–8 m tall."

The fruit it produces is very bitter and probably not for eating alone, but it is great for making marmalades. I will definitely be on the lookout to add this to my back yard!  Here is what it looks like with its fruit:


12 comments:

  1. Thanks for linking over to me.

    These are really a beautiful tree. If you can't find one, you may have luck planting a cheap little citrus tree outside, mulching around the graft point, then letting it freeze. There's a good chance the trifoliate orange will then take over and grow. Alternately, you could cut the top off a little tree while it's still in the pot and get the trifoliate orange to take over. I've seen them growing up out of the dead bases of deceased citrus trees.

    I've tasted the fruit: you're right - definitely not for fresh eating! It's a powerfully sour and bitter flavor. It probably would make a killer marmalade.

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  2. What a fascinating creature, and your photos are great, too. Please do inform us when you learn more about this species!


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  4. I have these citrus trees. The main tree is at an abandoned old log house on our farm. They are blooming right now(4/8/2014) and will eventually produce small,seedy, little lemon type fruit. Local folks call them crown of thorns.

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  10. I have seen Flying Dragon lemons. Small,bitter and mostly seeds. If they grow in zone 7 then it stands that other citrus will too. I'm gonna try. a tree is supposed to be in the ground.

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  11. I have seen Flying Dragon lemons. Small,bitter and mostly seeds. If they grow in zone 7 then it stands that other citrus will too. I'm gonna try. a tree is supposed to be in the ground.

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  12. Your blog has been so useful to me. So many wild food books include things from out West or swampy riverlands or things that only grow on the Canadian border, etc, but everything you have in Middle TN, we have in East TN. (Many of the plants are things that I remember playing with as a child; I never ate them, but I loved to pick the flowers off things like hop clover, hairy bittercress, and wood sorrel.) I'm carefully hoarding up wild plant info and recipes and putting it in my "survival binder" so if we have another economic collapse or some disaster, we'll at least be able to find some food to eat.

    We have a family friend who lives in Pelham, right at the foot of Monteagle Mtn, and he's been growing a palm tree in his yard for years; it's actually quite big now--taller than me. He said that he brought it up from his property in FL and that he just wraps a blanket around the trunk in the winter to keep it warm. (He also planted it right next to his log cabin on the southwest side; walls are good to radiate heat to trees and keep off northerly winds.) You can actually force lemon, orange, and lime trees here if you do the same thing to them. There's quite a bit of information out there on how to protect them against the occasional really hard freezes we get. Of course, you can also get a dwarf variety, and if you don't want to put it into your house or garage for the winter, you can build a little hoop greenhouse over it!

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