Which Citrus Trees Have Thorns? (& Should they be removed?)

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Which Citrus Trees Have Thorns? Citrus trees have juicy tasty fruits plus the leaves taste so good. Though you may not be seeing thorns in all citrus trees, some might have while others might not have thorns. The citrus trees having thorns is not an alarming thing, they are just for the defense to keep the grazers or harm away. The part of evolution thingy! Anyway, are you confused about which lemon trees have thorns? Let’s just give you all the details about those citrus trees and whether you should trim the thorns off or not.

Let’s keep it simple for you first, the citrus trees that have thorns include lemon trees, orange trees, limes, mandarins, grapefruit, tangelo, and pomelo. Let’s get to know about all of these and some others

Why do citrus trees have thorns?

The citrus trees nearing all that fruit and in some cases, the yummy leaves as well are prone to a heart attack by the hungry grazers. With time the citrus tree evolved to stay protected by having these spikes. The pointed structures in the plants indicate that the animals like to munch on them so much that to survive the plant adapts by having these structures like spikes, thorns, sharp skin, etc. the citrus plants in the younger stages show a lot of thorns which later reduces as the ‘citrus tree’ stage approaches.

Which Citrus Trees Have Thorns?

Lemon trees(Citrus limon)

Most varieties of lemon trees have thorns that are spiky and are seen on the twigs. Some hybrids of the lemon trees like Eureka might not have that many thorns or thorns at all. Some varieties might have hard thorns that can even prick the fruits due to agitation or something else.

Orange trees(Citrus sinensis)

Orange trees have thorns that are a bit blunt with small sizes present at the base of the leaves. This citrus tree has yummy sweet-flavored fruits though some other varieties might include hard thorns and sour fruits. Not just this some varieties of orange trees have bitter fruits that cannot be even consumed.

Key Limes(Citrus aurantifolia)

It is a thing that the limes that bear too many thorns have more fruits than those bearing less or no thorns. The thorns on limes are seen all over the branches. The limes like kaffir limes have the spines a bit harder, are small in size, and present below the point having a group of leaves.

Grapefruit trees

The twigs of the majority of grapefruit varieties have tiny, pliable thorns. Since the plant is a cross between a Caribbean orange and a pummelo, grapefruits get their prickly characteristics from that fruit. Some varieties of grapefruit trees like ‘marsh’ have soft, flexible short thorns whereas some varieties like Meiwa have no thorns at all. The spines are weak.

Pomelo trees

The pomelo trees have thorns and the trees bear tarty flavored fruits that are Swedish as well. Pummelo is the other name for pomelo trees.

Tangelo trees

These citrus trees are hybrids made by cross-fertilization between two types that are orange and grapefruit. The fruits are orange and have a tangy sweetish flavor with citrus essence. The thorns are prickly and strong.

Are citrus tree thorns poisonous?

The straightway answer is no! The thorns are part of the defensive mechanism of the citrus trees to save the fruits and leaves from herbivores. The thorns don’t have toxicity or harmful compounds that can be poisonous. They are just the protrusions that are formed from the plant skin tissue that is pointed and create a barrier for the animals.

These thorns can prick the fruit skin that is nearby due to agitation or can cut your skin while harvesting. But they bear any toxins.

Should you prune thorns on citrus trees?

As I mentioned before you can cut or remove the thorns from the citrus trees if they are making the harvesting task tough. Many times while removing the fruits from the trees, these thorns can prick your skin and create cuts. So to make the task much easier you can remove the thorns first. Use sharp pruning shears that are clean and dry and cut the thorns away. Though these thorns will keep your plant safe from voracious eaters like deers, and other herbivores.

Pros and cons of thorns on the citrus trees


The thorns can keep the predators away from the citrus trees that have soft leaves and juicy fruits. The thorns are also assumed to store some water in the drought stress, not letting the plant die from thirst. So its clear defense and reducing water loss are the two main functions of thorns in citrus trees.


Though it is not accurate for all the thorny plants, the thorns are also assumed to withdraw or use the energy of plants. To save the energy of the plants and contribute most of it to get good and high fruit yields, some gardeners prune the thorns. This can help in some cases of citrus trees(thorny) but not for all.

Final thoughts on the context

We hope you liked the information in this article and have got your question answered well. We are happy to clear your gardening doubts and problems related to the plants. Go through all the information to have a sorted view regarding the thorns and citrus trees. Happy curiosity, happy planting!


Which lemon tree has no thorns?

The eureka lemon tree which is a hybrid has no spines or thorns.

Do mandarin orange trees have thorns?

The mandarin orange trees do have thorns that are present over the trunk and branches of the trees.

Becky Decker

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