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

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.

List of thornless citrus trees:

The following are lists of Thornless citrus trees:

Eureka lemon:

They are citrus trees having few Thorns on them. They are less flavorful when compared to other thorny lemon varieties. 

Bearss lemon:

These are like eureka lemon which do have very few Thorns when we compare to the other lemon cultivars. 

Meiwa kumquat:

These are citrus tree varieties that produce round shapes of fruits that have a sweet taste. They are used to grow few thorns when compared to other varieties. 

Should you remove thorns on citrus trees?

  • There is no need to remove the thorns on citrus trees as they are not poisonous and dont have any risk if you get in touch with them. Having thorns doesn’t cause lower yields of fruits. The thorns do naturally dwindle when the plant enters the maturing stage for example varities of limes and citrus.
  • The thorns grown on the citrus trees are nature’s protectors that are used to protect them from any herbivore animal that is used to feed on the leaves and fruits.
  • When you remove the thorns from the citrus tree then the animals like deer will eat them all.
  • There are citrus trees that are used to store the extra amount of the spikes, especially in drought places like  Arizona and Nevada. So avoid pruning of thorns of citrus trees.
  • In case you are concerned about yourself or your family members getting hurt by the thorns then you can remove the thorn of the citrus tree.


In order to remove the thorns of citrus trees you actually should do it when they are young enough. Young citrus trees are used to be more prone to mechanical damage when they are in the growing stage. They used to spread disease when any herbivores nibble the leaves or fruits but the mature plants are used to recover from any such damage to the leaves or fruits.

Final thoughts on the context

We hope you liked the information in this article and have got your question answered well. now you get to know the importance of thorns in citrus trees, which citrus trees have thorns, whether are they poisonous, the pros and cons, and whether there is the need to prune the thorns or not all these are explained above and will help you a lot. 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

Becky Decker, our esteemed Editor-in-Chief, is a passionate gardener with years of experience in the world of horticulture. With her guidance, BonjourGreen.com aims to be your trusted companion on your gardening journey. Featured In   Becky Decker’s expertise and gardening wisdom have been recognized and featured in various prominent publications, including:   Homesandgardens.com Yahoo.com Urbansplatter.com Inkl.com Foliagefriend.com Yahoonews  Experience & Background   Becky Decker’s love for gardening has been a lifelong journey. She has honed her skills through countless seasons of planting, nurturing, and harvesting a wide variety of plants, flowers, and vegetables. Her deep-rooted knowledge is complemented by her Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from the University of Green Valley.   Prior to leading BonjourGreen.com, Becky worked as a garden consultant, helping countless individuals turn their outdoor spaces into vibrant, thriving gardens. Her experience spans over a decade, making her a trusted authority in the gardening community.   The Birth of BonjourGreen.com   Inspired by her passion for gardening and her desire to share her expertise with a wider audience, Becky Decker launched BonjourGreen.com in 2021. This platform serves as a hub for gardening enthusiasts of all levels, from beginners to seasoned pros.   At BonjourGreen.com, we are committed to providing you with comprehensive guides, expert advice, and hands-on tips to help you achieve success in your gardening endeavors. Whether you have a small balcony garden or a sprawling backyard paradise, we have the information you need to make your garden flourish.   Our Mission   BonjourGreen.com is more than just a gardening website; it’s a community of gardeners who share a common love for nurturing the Earth. Our mission is to empower you with the knowledge and resources to create beautiful, sustainable gardens that bring joy and tranquility to your life.   Join Us on This Green Journey   We invite you to explore BonjourGreen.com and embark on your gardening journey with us. Whether you’re seeking advice on planting techniques, pest control, landscaping ideas, or the latest gardening trends, you’ll find it all right here.   Connect with us, ask questions, and share your gardening stories. Together, we’ll cultivate a thriving community of gardeners and help each other make the world a greener, more beautiful place.   Let’s dig in and grow together at BonjourGreen.com, where gardening dreams bloom!

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