Green Balls from Frank in SC

I have found many of these in low lying, shady areas usually around creeks but not in the creeks. They stay green year around but seem to drop thier leaves in the winter. I hope the photos show the thorns, most of the plant is green with some bark like covering near the bases but they are covered with 2″-3″ strong thorns from the bast to the tops of the branches. They also grow green balls which I think are probably seed pod. I’m curious as to what these are, if they are poisonous or not and if they have any uses.
Thank you, love this site


Hi Frank,

thank you for your inquiry on this interesting plant. Your green balls when ripe will turn yellow-orange because it is a citrus relative called Poncirus trifoliata, sometimes called Citrus trifoliata.  It is an Asian plant that is very tolerant of cold and disease so that more fragile cultivars of oranges and so on can be grafted onto the more resistant rootstocks to grow in milder climates. It is edible but extremely sour and bitter.   Thanks for asking!

— Steve Hill, SCNPS

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