The hardy or trifoliate orange originated from Northern China and the Korean Penensula but can now be found in both Europe and North America. In North America, it is mostly found in the southern United States. It, as the name implies, is quite a hardy plant that can withstand even the harshest of New England winters. It preferes direct sunlight but is not necessary for its growth. In terms of soil, the trifoliate orange sandy to loamy soil and high levels of moisture. In a less "natural" environment, it is often found in hedges. The thorny nature of the trifoliate orange has made it an ideal hedge plant for homeowners. It is even know to be used to keep livestock in fields. It is often found in North American forests, especially at the edges of the woodlands. The "natural" (outside of intentional plantings) range of the trifoliate orange in the United States is shown in the picture above.
Origin, history, and uses:
The trifoliate orange originated in Northern China and the Korean peninsula. However, it has become common in parts of the southern United States. In the US, it has been cultivated as a plant for hedges as the thorns dissuade possible intruding animals. In traditional Eastern Medicine, the fruit is used to remedy allergic reactions especially inflammation. The fruit is edible though not widely consumed in the Western world. Modern in vitro lab experiments have suggested that extracts from the trifoliate orange can be processed to be used as an antiallergenic and antiinflamitory. The trifoliate orange was traditionally made into jams, jellies and marmalades by early American colonists.
The trifoliate orange follows fairly typical seasonal patterens of flowering trees. It loses its leaves in the winter, blooms in the spring and has ripened fruit come the fall. Much of the bark and branches of the trifoliate orange, however, stays green yearround. This provides a remarkable contrast during the winter with the rest of the garden and plant-life which is predominantly brown in the cold, brutal New England winters. Leaves tend to begin to show on the plant in the spring as do the flowers. The flowers are small, white, and very fragrent. Fruit may begin to show in the summer and are green when unripe. As the fruit ripens, they turn from green to yellow and the ripe fruit is ready by the fall.