The tree this came from started as a Meyer Lemon 16 years ago. I got two skimpy years of lemons on my patio. When I moved to a house, the plant went into the ground, with a few lemons. Three years later we had a big freeze that almost killed the tree. The result was the root stock came out and the tree survived. I never got another lemon off the tree.

Everything I read said the root stock should be sour orange, so it should be lemon or sour orange, right. What I got next was these super sweet, thick zipper skin orange fruits. Maybe it is some kind of satsuma, tangerine, type of orange ... but it certainly is not sour, and I like it better than the Lemon it started as. There are seeds in it, so it is not a typical satsuma.

After another freeze, thorny rootstock came out that produces a smaller orange fruit that is tart/sweet, but looks nothing like the other orange fruit. What is going on with my tree?

Orange coloured fruit

1 Answer 1


This looks like tangerines. I think your lemon was grafted on a tangerine root stock. With the frost the lemon part of the tree died probably, but the root stock survived. It now produces nice tangerines, you say they are sweet and nice in tastes, so you were lucky that your lemon tree was not grafted on a sour orange root stock, but on this sweet tangerine instead.

Enjoy, they look delicious.

  • But the OP is now also getting what appears to be sour oranges. I'm certainly not a citrus expert, so I'd like to know if it's possible that her tree had two separate grafts - lemon onto tangerine onto sour orange?
    – Jurp
    Feb 13, 2021 at 22:05
  • The last batch of small oranges can be due to a bad year, I don't know. I think two grafts in one tree is very unlikely, but I haven't seen the original situation.
    – benn
    Feb 13, 2021 at 22:25
  • I agree that two grafts on a tree would be very unusual, which is why I asked. I could see a situation where the production nursery in Flori-duh had a "failed" tangerine (grafted onto sour orange) lying around and decided to reuse it as a graft for a lemon especially if the sour orange (?) is coming from the roots and the tangerine grew from just below the lemon graft. I think something very strange happened here.
    – Jurp
    Feb 13, 2021 at 22:33
  • @Jurp, sounds like a good explanation, I hadn't thought of that.
    – benn
    Feb 14, 2021 at 8:04
  • The small sour oranges are definitely growing on a stock different from the sweet ones. The limbs have thorns, came out years after the first transformation, and are definitely round like most oranges.
    – Amy
    Feb 14, 2021 at 21:46

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