“This tree is growing in my new yard. What is it? It has huge green thorns and white flowers that bloomed in spring.” –Question by Betty in Charleston, South Carolina
ANSWER: This is the hardy orange (Poncirus trifoliata). Later in the summer it will develop inedible orange fruits. It is grown as an ornamental, though this tree is not for everyone. Some people like the striking look of its enormous green thorns, white flowers, and showy fruits, and its green stems add winter interest. It also has three-lobed leaves that turn yellow in fall. But, the thorns are not child-friendly, and heavy duty gloves are required to prune it. Otherwise, it is trouble free. If you like its looks, and can avoid its thorns, consider keeping it for its ornamental value.