What Kind of Citrus Tree Has Thorns?

Many types of citrus trees grow thorns at some point during their growth period. However, pruning away thorns, even from new growth is perfectly safe. Mature citrus trees, like lemons, limes and grapefruits, tend to grow thorns less frequently than newly grafted trees.

Lemon tree
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Fresh lemons on a lemon tree

Types of Citrus Trees

Grapefruit on tree, close-up, Florida, USA
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Grapefruits on a tree

Many different kinds of fruit-bearing citrus trees are known to be thorny. Some of the most common kinds to grow thorns include Meyer lemons, grapefruits, and key limes.


Branch with needles
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Branch with thorns

Thorns often sprout on new grafts and fruiting wood. Juvenile plants grow thorns to protect themselves from grazing animals.

Rootstock Thorns

grafted branch in cloning plant technique
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A grafted branch

Fruit growers who graft their trees should remove all thorns from the rootstock at the time of grafting.

Pruning Thorns

Pruning an orange tree
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Farmer pruning an orange tree

As gardeners notice thorns on their citrus trees, it is safe to prune away the thorns. Pruning thorns will not damage new growths.

Container Growing

lemon tree
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An indoor lemon tree

Citrus trees grow well in containers, making them appropriate for indoor growth as well as outdoor growth. These trees self-pollinate and will produce fruit when grown indoors.

Erin Maurer

A freelance writer for various online publications, Erin Maurer covers travel destinations, gardening and home decorating projects. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from Widener University in Chester, Pa.