Orange Tree Have Thorns: Should I Really Worry

“Thorns are part of roses, but oranges, I do not think so.” I have heard this statement so many times already and I would just smile each time. This article will discuss if you should worry if your orange tree have thorns on them. We will also tackle if you should use pruning saw or other means to cut them.


Are Thorns on Orange Tree Normal?

To simply answer this, yes. However, you have to acknowledge the fact that thornless trees are also common.

Common Characteristics of Thorns

The thorns are normally seen in the stems, particularly in the part where your buds and leaves start to grow. They are also frequently green and short. You may see long thorns though but it is just because they grow from roots or from the shoots of the plant.

The latter type of thorn should be removed. You can do assess your plant by checking the source of the thorn. If you can see them coming from the unions of graft, cut them off. Normally, this is located 6 inches from the soil.

You have to understand, however, that hybrid orange plants are sometimes void of any thorns at all. The cultivation of orange trees gave rise to thornless species. As of today, some thorny orange plants and trees are producing fruits that are surprisingly sweet as well.

Why Do Orange Trees Have Thorns?

Animals and insects feed on plants. As they feed, it is inevitable that they would get damaged especially while they are still growing. They are then said to develop thorns so as to protect them from getting smashed up. To cut this long explanation short, the thorns are there for their own survival.

It was said that as these plants mature, the thorns eventually becomes little because the plant is already strong to withstand physical bouts.​

​Orange Trees with Thorns

They say that if the orange tree was grown from trees, they will be the thorniest ones. Since they would start as babies they would need more protection from herbivore attacks according to experts. On the other hand, if the orange tree started from an adult orange tree’s budding then it will not grow long thorns as much as the other one.

Unfortunately, it has been observed that the more thorns your orange tree has, the less desirable the fruit it will bear. People also notice that thorny orange trees sometimes do not bear fruit.

From a friend who is an arborist, I have learned though that there is a certain phase in which the orange tree can really be or is expected to be thorny and fruitless. It can go from months to weeks but this is just a phase. As the foliage develops, it will soon have blunt extensions and bear fruit in the long run.

Apart from their specific origin, there are particular trees that have thorns. The most popular type is the trifoliate orange trees. This specific type of tree has convoluted thorns on their branches of about 2 inches long. Unlike the others, the fruits that trifoliate oranges produce are not sweet and they have many seeds inside.

Generally speaking, Rutaceae is the family of orange tree that normally has thorns. This family has 2,000+ species of mostly shrubs and trees. Citrange, tangerine, bergamot orange, mandarin, and other citrus sinensis fruits are expected to bear thorns.

There are some situations though that may cause orange plants and trees to bear thorns. For example, if the orange tree is dehydrated or the orange plant has been in a pot for so long, they would grow prickly stems in the long run.

Is it Okay to Remove the Thorns?

If the thorns of the orange tree are hurting you and if you have the luxury of time to get rid of them, I do not see any reason why you should not prune your thorns. It will not be detrimental to the health of your citrus tree, don’t worry.

Here’s a good video that will teach you how to prune citrus tree:

Make sure that when you are pruning your orange trees, you make use of proper protective equipment so as not to hurt yourself. It is also important to learn proper techniques so that you can enjoy long-lasting effects. Lastly, ensure that the tools you are going to make use of are effective and it will not make the task more stressful since this is not as enjoyable as you take care of your bonsai trees.


There are indeed types of orange trees that have thorns and there is nothing to be worried about. You may prune them if they are hurting you or you can make the most out of it by providing safety homes for animals and insects.

I hope you learned something from this article, if you did, please do not forget to share.

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