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When is a horse a butterfly?

Trifoliate orange growing in reader Mario Facinelli's Northport

Trifoliate orange growing in reader Mario Facinelli's Northport garden. Credit: Handout

In last weekend's column, I misidentified reader Tom Marren's tree as a wild plum, when in fact it's a trifoliate orange. Also called a hardy orange, the tree bears a similarity to the wild plum in that it's very thorny and produces golf ball-sized fruit that starts out green. That's all I was able to ascertain from the early-season, close-up photo Marren sent, but as it turns out, if I had inspected the foliage more thoroughly, I would have realized the leaves are different. The orange has "trifoliate" leaves, which are compound leaves comprised of three leaflets apiece. Many thanks to eagle-eyed readers Jennie Townsend of Center Island, Mario Facinelli of Northport, Vinnie Drzewucki of Freeport, Leo McSherry of Hempstead, Christopher Camastro of Springs, Joan Prior of Port Washington, Kenneth Hoffman and Patricia Garry, who called me on this, giving me the opportunity to set the record straight.

Facinelli sent the above photo, of his own trifoliate orange. Had I seen this shot, I'm pretty sure I would have identified it correctly. In any event, I'm glad at least I'm not this guy:

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