Do Satsuma Trees Have Thorns?

Nope, you’re not imagining things…your new Satsuma Tree really does have thorns. It may come as a surprise to you, but most Satsuma Trees – in fact, most citrus trees – do have thorns while they’re still quite young.

Why Satsuma Orange Trees Have Thorns

Thorns grow on young Satsuma Trees for the same reason they grow on any plant – to protect them from predators, i.e. hungry critters that would nibble away at the tender leaves and fruit during the tree’s most delicate stage of life. Usually, these thorns disappear when the tree is old enough to bloom, though when that happens depends on the variety of Satsuma.

Satsuma Tree Varieties

Before we get into the varieties, you might be wondering just what a Satsuma Tree is. Satsumas are a type of mandarin, like tangerines and Clementines. They’re small, squat, orange citrus fruits with few seeds, easy-to-peel skins, and a very sweet yet zesty flavor. Their size and sweet flavor make them popular with kids, and the fact that they’re easy to peel makes them popular with those who often pack lunches to take with them. In addition to enjoying them fresh, Satsuma fans like to add them to salads.

Satsumas can be hard to find in stores when they’re in season, but it’s easy to grow your own – in fact, Satsuma Trees are one of the more cold-hardy citrus trees (that said, if you live in a colder climate and are looking for a Satsuma Tree for sale, you should go with a dwarf variety you can keep in a container and move indoors when the temperature drops).

You can find Satsuma Trees for sale at Here are some of the more popular varieties:

  • Owari Satsuma. Owari Satsumas are palm-sized, seedless, bright-orange that taste very similar to Clementines. The fruit is in season from early December to January. The tree is small, with vibrant, dark-green foliage and fragrant white blossoms. It also comes in a dwarf variety.
  • Brown Select Satsuma. Brown Select Satsuma mandarins are available from October to November (about 2 weeks ahead of Owari Satsuma). They’re bigger than the Owari Satsumas, and have thin, glossy, easy to peel sins. The fruit is great for juicing and eating out of hand, and the peel can be used for baking, cooking, and making candy or concocting drinks. The tree has a crown covered with glossy, dark green, lance-shaped leaves and fragrant while blooms. It also comes in a dwarf variety.
  • Miho Satsuma Tree. Miho Satsumas are a favorite at Thanksgiving, since the trees are usually loaded with the bright orange, delicious citrus at this time. The fruit is a perfect blend of sweet and tart and is very easy to peel. The tree is one of the hardiest of the Satsuma family.
  • Seto Satsuma Tree. Like the Miho, the Seta Satsuma is in season in November, and the tree is cold hardy (for a citrus). The fruit is very sweet, virtually seedless, and easy to peel. The tree stays small (12 feet at maturity), and does well in containers.

Find a Satsuma Mandarin Tree for sale>>

When Thorns Get in the Way of the Fruit

Satsuma Tree care is fairly simple…you need to be sure your tree gets enough sunlight (at least eight hours a day), plant it in well-draining soil, avoid overwatering and, if you’re keeping a dwarf variety in a pot, move it indoors when it gets cold. Fertilizing your tree regularly will help with fruit production, too (be sure to use a fertilizer formulated especially for citrus, like those found in our Citrus Care Kits).

As far as pruning goes…pruning your Satsuma Tree is almost never necessary. Generally, pinching off unwanted leaves is enough. But if you find that thorns on a young Satsuma Tree are making it difficult for you to safely harvest the fruit, you can prune them away without damaging the tree.