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Problems with unknown shrub

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
by Southern Gardener on March 15, 2006 05:09 AM

We have a very large shrub in our yard that has been growing for over 40 years.

I not sure exactly what kind it is. I think it may be a Trifoliate Orange.

It is now well over 8 feet tall, it has large dark green thorns that can grow up to 2 to 3 inches long. The shrub has small oval leaves and in the spring it has white blossoms- like an orange blossom. In summer you see small dark green "oranges" that have a peach like fuzz. In the fall the fruit turns a golden yellow and when crushed gives off a very citrus smell. The fruit grows no larger than a ping pong ball, it's filled with a white pulpy center and lots of small seeds.

Does anyone know what kind of shrub this could be?

My next question is- how do I get rid of it? It sends off shoots that go underground and they spring up all around the diameter of the shrub- it covers the ground under the shrub. Even these offshoots have small thorns. It's proved to be a very hearty shrub- sort of the shrub that won't die.

These long thorns are awful and very painful- and make it an almost impossible shrub to trim.

Any ideas will be most welcome! Thanks!
by Patty S on March 15, 2006 03:16 PM
From what you describe, I'm thinking that it's probably a Quince bush. (Have you tasted the fruit? It should be extremely bitter!) I have one at the edge of my yard that was so out of hand when we moved here, that I cut it way back (One branch at a time!) ...& it came back ...with a vengeance!

That darned thing will get 20 feet tall in one year, & as you say, "It sends off shoots that go underground and they spring up all around the diameter of the shrub- it covers the ground under the shrub. Even these offshoots have small thorns. It's proved to be a very hearty shrub- sort of the shrub that won't die." Last year my son took a chain saw to it & cut it all the way to the ground... & it's coming back again! [Mad] I don't like using chemical herbicides, so I plan to just keep cutting it down & hope that eventually I'll weaken it to the point where it'll give up!

Several years ago we had a Quince Hedge that was real nice, but we had to keep it shaped & trimmed, and those offshoots that come up from the root system had to be chopped out constantly.

I'm sure that since those offshoots can be controlled by chopping them out, you might also be able to eliminate the bush itself, by chopping/digging into the root system. The only thing wrong with that, is that some plants will send up new growth from each piece of root that's left behind! If you're in an area where you're allowed open burning, maybe a bonfire in that spot, after you cut the roots out, would do the trick. [dunno]

I'm sorry that I don't have a better answer to your question, but I can certainly relate to your frustration over this nemisis shrub! As I said, I don't like using herbicides, but sometimes there is just no other answer! I suggest that you call your County extension office & ask them what they recommend. They usually have Master Gardeners there, who are qualified to advise people with this type of problem.

Good luck! (I know I'm not the only one here who would appreciate hearing back from you when/if you find a remedy for getting rid of that horrible bush!)

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by obywan59 on March 15, 2006 11:22 PM
I agree with your initial ID Southern Gardener. I think it sounds like a trifoliate orange too. The 2-3 inch thorns are typical. The quince does have thorns, but they are much smaller. The seeds of the trifoliate almost fill the seed cavity, hardly any pulp at all. I've made orange marmalade out of the peels and what little pulp there is.

I would gingerly take a chain saw to it, gradually trimming the branches away till you can get to the base of the plant, then cut the stems as close to ground level as you can.

Then you could try smothering it by covering with multiple layers of plastic with plenty of mulch on top to hold it down.

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May the force be with you
by Southern Gardener on March 15, 2006 11:41 PM

Thank you so much Patty and Terry for the great advice on my shrub problem.

I hadn't heard of a Quince bush before, but as Terry said the thorns on this thing are really long and needle sharp- I've got the wounds to prove it!

As to the fruit being made into marmalade- I don't think so at least not with our bush, my father always told me the fruit of this bush is poisonious.

We do live in town and have regulations about burning- gosh, if we didn't I would try to get a flame thrower after it... And I doubt then it would get it all...

Thanks again for all the helpful advice and I'll keep you posted if ever we are able to get rid of it!

All the best.

by papito on March 16, 2006 12:23 AM
Does it look like this?

or this?

read Poisonous Part here.

I am with you and Terry's ID of the shrub as Trifoliate Orange [TO} based on your description. The TO is cold hardy to 0*F, and is important commercially as dwarfing rootstock to add cold hardiness to citrus trees.

Ever try calling your local nursery to see if they need the TO, or point you in the direction of commercial citrus growers?

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Amor est vitae essentia.
Love is the essence of life.
by Southern Gardener on March 16, 2006 12:52 AM
That's it! That's the thing that has tried to take over our side yard!

As I write our town trash removal service has just carted off two large truckloads of the stuff I trimed from it the other day- I still have a tree or shrub the size of Cleveland out there still.

I can't imagine anyone wanting it in their yard. It's so dangerous if you have children or pets.

Thank you for word on the fruit being poisonious.

Now at least I know what it is!
Thank you again!

by obywan59 on March 16, 2006 12:58 AM
Interesting about them being poisonous. Apparently the "low toxicity" is correct as I remember absolutely no ill effects from eating the marmalade. I got my information from the Manual of Woody Landscape Plants by Michael A Dirr. He had some additional notes on the TO saying:

"Ripe fruits set aside for several weeks become juicy and develop a sprightly, slightly acid flavor. Serves as a substitute for lemon, pulp can be made into marmalade, and peel can be candied."

Maybe setting the fruits aside as he says had some effect on the toxicity???? Maybe that plus the fact that you only use a small amount of marmalade at a time.

* * * *

May the force be with you
by peppereater on March 16, 2006 05:27 AM
Terry, I think you're right that it's sometimes considered edible. It's not considered "desirable," though, because of the bitterness. Some things have to be eaten in quantities to be toxic. Did you know that potato skins are toxic? They cause gastric distress and diarrhea if eaten in quantity.

* * * *
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by Southern Gardener on March 20, 2006 09:08 AM
I've spent three solid days cutting down the Trifollient Orange that was in danger of taking over our yard. I'm happy to say the entire bush is gone!

Now my question is this:
The offshoots that have sprung up in the grass around the base of the shrub- what would be the best way to kill them? I thought about covering them with heavy black plastic (but it's a really large area the stuff covers)- I was wondering since the offshoots seem to like to grow under the shade of the shrub- maybe covering them wouldn't be such a good idea?

I also found out that Bamboo was growing along side the bush- any idea how to get rid of that too? [Frown]

Thanks to everyone for all the great advice- it's helped me so much!

by kyjoy on March 31, 2006 07:53 AM
Birds love the fruit of the Quince.
by Southern Gardener on March 31, 2006 08:07 AM
Concerning the bush I've had so much trouble with- the Trifolient Orange, birds loved to sit and nest among the thorns of the bush. I never saw any of them try the fruit though, even the crushed fruit. They seem to avoid it.

by mrsmessy on April 01, 2006 09:21 PM
I have no idea how to get rid of bamboo but I did watch a program by UGA on containing it if for some reason you wanted it. It was a massive task involving trenching aprox 5-6 feet deep and placing overlapping layers of corrugated roofing material all around the "island" of bamboo. I think moving to a new home might be easier than that.

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by Southern Gardener on April 01, 2006 11:05 PM
We've had a bit of success with our Bamboo problem- at least I hope we have...
After pulling up and cutting all the Bamboo shoots down we came along with the tiller and tilled the ground. So far- fingers crossed- [Roll Eyes] it doesn't look like it's returning.

It's still early Spring so it may try to come back on the rebound.

Thanks for suggestions! All help appreciated!


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