Japanese Bitter Oranges, Poncirus trifoliata, in St. Paul's Churchyard, London
When I first started collecting and propagating citrus almost thirty years ago, I found it impossible to obtain viable Poncirus trifoliata seeds in the UK. They are used to grow the preferred rootstock for true citrus varieties. That was why I first started seeking out fruiting Poncirus plants, and later started this website listing mature, publically accessible, specimens.
Over the years, I have found quite a few plants myself and been told about several others. Today I was amazed to discover, thanks initially to the Trees of London website, a veritable hot-spot of Poncirus trifoliata right at the spiritual centre of London - in the churchyard of St. Paul's Cathedral! There are trees on the North, East and South sides of the cathedral, although the northern plant is probably always in shade and was not fruiting. The others are fine, old specimens. When I visited in late October they were covered in orange fruits.
This group of three plants enjoys the best south-facing position very close to the cathedral wall
St. Paul's Churchyard
is maintained by the
City of London
I emailed the City of London to ask if anyone knew the history of the Japanese Bitter Orange trees at St. Paul's. They replied:
The trees we believe were planted at this site up to 25 years ago and are the only ones we are aware of in the gardens that we maintain in the Square Mile.
City Gardens Support Services Officer
St. Paul's Wildlife:
Left - A group of starlings was perched in one of the Trifoliate Orange trees.
I don't think they were actually feeding on the fruits.
Below - By the side of the cathedral is a small path, probably only meant for gardeners and maintenance access. Here I came across a bird-feeder - designed to be squirrel-proof, it had certainly not deterred this tiny mouse!
These are the trees in the shrub border at the Eastern end of the cathedral.
page created 31st October 2010