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Bitter Orange Citrus x aurantium

Phonetic Spelling
SI-trus aw-RAN-tee-um
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Sour orange is an evergreen tree in the Rutaceae family that grows up to 30 feet tall in a tropical, sub-tropical habitat.  The fruit is inedible as it is very bitter but is essential in making marmalades and liquors such as Triple Sec. It is native to southeastern Asia and has been carried and cultivated throughout the tropical regions of the world.  Its name comes from the Latin noun aurantium, meaning "of orange."  It has smooth, brown bark with thorns.  In cooler zones it can be grown in a container that can be overwintered indoors.

Plant sour orange in full sun, with moist but not overly wet soil. Water regularly, allowing the soil time to dry out between watering. It does well in medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils with a pH of 5 - 8 but it can grow in very alkaline soils also. Care should be taken in its location as it is moderately frost-tender but can survive short freezes. It must get early morning sunlight during the growing season, which is in late winter and early spring, so new, tender branches don't freeze. The tree propagates readily from seed.

The sour orange became more widely grown as a rootstock for other citrus varieties than for its fruit because of its disease resistance and greater hardiness.  But the tree still provides many medicinal benefits and commercial uses for the fruit, flowers, and peel.

Plant outside for year-round enjoyment in the proper hardiness zone or put in a planter for movement inside when the weather turns cold. Sour orange dislikes root disturbance so it should be placed in its permanent location outside when young. If growing them in pots, great care must be taken when moving them to larger containers.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  Anthracnose is sometimes seen.  Overwatering may cause fungal infections or root rot and the tree to decline in fruit production.  

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#thorns#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#white flowers#fragrant leaves#frost tender#medicinal#interiorscape#fruit tree#glossy leaves#alkaline soils tolerant#orange fruits#evergreen tree#citrus fragrance#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#tropical feel#container plant#showy#full sun
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#thorns#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#white flowers#fragrant leaves#frost tender#medicinal#interiorscape#fruit tree#glossy leaves#alkaline soils tolerant#orange fruits#evergreen tree#citrus fragrance#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#tropical feel#container plant#showy#full sun
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Citrus
    Family:
    Rutaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The juice, peel, and essential oil (Neroli) in flowers have all been used in skin care products because of its antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Sour orange is also used in perfume and hair care products to provide a fragrance of citrus.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern Asia
    Distribution:
    Tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, including Fiji, Samoa, Guam, middle east, India, Africa, Italy, Spain, England, the Caribbean, Bermuda, the Americas, Florida
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Fragrance
    Edibility:
    Fruit is very bitter and sour. The rind is boiled down with sugar to make marmalade.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 5 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 16 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Houseplant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Thorns
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is round, with an aromatic, thick peel, rough-surfaced, fragrant, becoming bright reddish-orange on maturity. The pulp is very sour and bitter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Large white fragrant flowers about 1 1/2 inches wide singly or in small clusters with 5 white petals that look like a star surrounding a tuft of up to 24 yellow stamens.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenulate
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Evergreen leaves are very fragrant, usually ovate, 2 1/2 to 5 1/2 inches long and 1 1/2 to 4 inches wide, minutely toothed, dark green in color above, pale beneath.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Smooth, brown bark with thorns from 1 in to 3 1/8 in long.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    New year's growth is green in color.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Shade Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Dry Soil
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
    Spines/Thorns
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Vomiting, diarrhea, depression; potential photosensitivity (dermatitis)
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Essential oils and psoralens
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No