The orange tree is one of the exotic plants that is usually cultivated in a tub due to the lack of winter hardiness in Central European climates. Although some specimens can reach a height of over 15 meters and grow as real trees, the special varieties with a maximum height of eight meters, which produce fruits in the form of mini oranges, are increasingly gaining ground. The plant expert will answer whether these are edible.

Differences in orange trees

In principle, orange trees in colder climates, such as exist in German-speaking countries, cannot survive the winter outdoors. For this reason, they are bred / offered in such a way that they can also be cultivated in pots without any problems. Depending on the pot size, they remain small and rarely reach their maximum final size. However, this is not decisive for the type or size of the oranges. This depends on the varieties that are available both as normal oranges in the usual size and with mini oranges.

Tip: Conventional orange trees are usually offered as fruit trees. The mini fruit trees are usually designated as ornamental plants and often leads buyers to assume that the fruits are therefore not consumable and are only used for ornamentation. Customers shouldn’t be confused here, because mini oranges are also edible.

Size and shell

The mini orange should not be confused with tangerines or clementines. They can be easily distinguished from them by the following characteristics

  • significantly smaller than mandarins and clementines
  • Depending on the variety, mini fruit size between three and five centimeters
  • thinner peels than mandarins and clementines

Edible or not?

Basically, the mini fruits of an orange tree are suitable for consumption. However, they do not always suit everyone’s taste. This is due to the fact that their taste is sometimes very different from a normal-sized orange. Rather, the question arises whether it is edible, because it is very acidic and cannot be compared with others in this regard.

Idea: If the fruit is too sour for you, sugar or in combination with foods containing sugar can make the taste much more pleasant.

Juicy to fibrous

Depending on the variety and, last but not least, care and location, the mini orange can have different properties. For example, if an orange tree receives little sun, it takes longer to ripen, which can become more fibrous. Consumption is therefore not comparable to a consistently juicy and optimally ripened mini orange, which develops through a lot of warmth and sun.

Orange tree from the trade

If the mini-fruits do not come from your own breeding, but from a small tree from the trade, you should be careful with the first harvest before using them in the kitchen. In commercial breeding, the focus is usually on plant growth. Fruit formation and quality play less of a role. So it often happens that chemical agents have been injected. This primarily serves to accelerate growth and in many cases also to avoid downtimes as little as possible if the plants are exposed to a high risk of disease due to mass breeding. As a result, the fruits could have come into contact with substances that are hazardous to health. In this case, caution should be exercised as to whether the mini oranges are edible or not.


It is important that after peeling the mini oranges from orange trees that have been declared ornamental trees, you clean your hands carefully before consuming or processing them. In this way, any harmful residues of pesticides can be removed and cannot be transferred to the fruit.

Recipes and Uses

Those who do not like the extremely sour taste when biting into mini oranges do not have to simply dispose of the mini oranges in the household rubbish. You can add a “tangy” aroma to countless foods and drinks. They can also be used outside the kitchen, for example as a room fragrance or decoration.

Well-known mini orange varieties

The most famous varieties of dwarf oranges include:

Calamondin (Citrofortunella)

The calamondin is primarily grown in the Philippines, where it is known as “calamansi”. It is assumed that the calamondin is a hybrid species, which arose from a cross between the mandarin “Citrus reticulata” and the kumquat “Fortunella margarita”. It has the following properties:

  • Taste: sour to inedible
  • Ripening time about six months
  • Harvest: spread over the whole year (with optimal site conditions)
  • tender pulp
  • easy-to-remove peel with a fruity aroma (suitable for abrasion)
  • dries quickly after the optimal ripening time
  • very juicy

Kumquat (Fortunella)

  • Taste: bitter to sour with a slight slight sweetness
  • Maturation time: around twelve months
  • Harvest: autumn and / through winter
  • The pulp is firmer than a calamondin
  • The peel is edible and has a tart, sweet taste

Whether as ornamental orange trees or as little fruit trees, mini oranges are edible, but not necessarily edible due to their relatively strong acidity. But they are too valuable to throw away, because they can be used as an additional aroma in the kitchen or otherwise, such as for Christmas decorations.

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