The mandarin orange (
Citrus reticulata; Chinese: 橘子 or 桔子;
pinyin: júzi; Yue Chinese: 桔, jyutping: gat1), also known as the
mandarin or mandarine, is a small citrus tree with fruit resembling
other oranges, usually eaten plain or in fruit salads. Specifically
reddish-orange mandarin cultivars can be marketed as tangerines, but
this is not a botanical classification.
Mandarins are smaller and oblate, rather than spherical like the
common oranges (which are a mandarin hybrid). The taste is considered
less sour, as well as sweeter and stronger. A ripe mandarin is firm
to slightly soft, heavy for its size, and pebbly-skinned. The peel is
very thin, with very little bitter white mesocarp, so they are
usually easier to peel and to split into segments. Hybrids generally
have these traits to a lesser degree.
The mandarin orange tree is more drought-tolerant than the fruit. The
mandarin is tender and is damaged easily by cold. It can be grown in
tropical and subtropical areas.
According to molecular studies, the mandarin, the citron, the
pomelo, and to a lesser extent the papedas and kumquat, were the
ancestors of most other commercial citrus varieties, through breeding
or natural hybridization; mandarins are therefore important as the
only sweet fruit among the parental species.
1 Biological description
3.1 Fresh mandarins
3.4 Traditional medicine
6 Cultural significance
8.1 Pure mandarins
8.2 Non-pure mandarins
8.3 Mandarin crosses
9 See also
11 External links
Mandarin oranges in a mesh bag
Citrus reticulata is a moderate-sized tree usually not exceeding
4 m (13 ft) in height; however, a 30-year-old tree can reach
5 metres (16 ft) (such a tree can yield some 5–7 thousand
fruits). The tree generally has thorns.
The leaves are shiny and green, rather small. The petioles are
short, almost wingless or slightly winged.
The flowers are borne singly or in small groups in the leaf-axils.
The fruits are oblate. They turn orange when ripe.
Citrus fruits are usually self-fertile (needing only a bee to move
pollen within the same flower) or parthenocarpic (not needing
pollination and therefore seedless, such as the satsuma).
Blossoms from the Dancy cultivar are one exception. They are
self-sterile, and therefore must have a pollinator variety to supply
pollen, and a high bee population to make a good crop.[citation
The name "mandarin orange" is a calque of Swedish mandarin apelsin
(apelsin from German Apfelsine=Apfel+Sino means chinese apple), first
attested in the 18th century. The form "mandarine" derives from the
French name for this fruit. The reason for the epithet "mandarin" is
not clear; it may relate to the yellow colour of some robes worn by
Production of mandarin oranges*
(millions of tonnes)
*includes tangerines, clementines, satsumas
FAOSTAT of the United Nations
See also: List of fruit dishes
Mandarins are generally peeled and eaten fresh. The fresh fruit is
also used in salads, desserts and main dishes. Fresh tangerine juice
and frozen juice concentrate are commonly available in the United
States. The number of seeds in each segment (carpel) varies greatly.
The peel is used fresh, whole or zested, or dried as chenpi. It can be
used as a spice for cooking, baking, drinks, or candy.
Canned mandarin segments are peeled to remove the white pith prior to
canning; otherwise, they turn bitter. Segments are peeled using a
chemical process. First, the segments are scalded in hot water to
loosen the skin; then they are bathed in a lye solution, which digests
the albedo and membranes. Finally, the segments undergo several rinses
in plain water. They are often used in salads, desserts, and baking.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the dried peel of the fruit is used
in the regulation of ch'i, and also used to treat abdominal
distension, to enhance digestion, and to reduce phlegm. Mandarins
have also been used in ayurveda (traditional medicine of
India).[verification needed][unreliable medical source?]
In 2016, world production of mandarin oranges (combined with
tangerines, clementines, and satsumas in reporting to FAOSTAT) was
32.8 million tonnes, led by
China with 52% of the global total
(table). Producing more than one million tonnes each in 2016 were
Spain, Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt.
Mandarin oranges, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
223 kJ (53 kcal)
Vitamin A equiv.
Pantothenic acid (B5)
Link to USDA Database entry
μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
A mandarin orange contains 85% water, 13% carbohydrates, and
negligible amounts of fat and protein (table). Among micronutrients,
only vitamin C is in significant content (32% of the Daily Value) in a
100 gram reference serving, with all other nutrients in low amounts.
During Chinese New Year, mandarin oranges/tangerine/satsumas are
considered traditional symbols of abundance and good fortune.[citation
needed] During the two-week celebration, they are frequently displayed
as decoration and presented as gifts to friends, relatives, and
Mandarin oranges, particularly from Japan, are a
in Canada, the
United States and Russia.
In the United States, they are commonly purchased in 5- or 10-pound
boxes, individually wrapped in soft green paper, and given in
Christmas stockings. This custom goes back to the 1880s, when Japanese
immigrants in the
United States began receiving Japanese mandarin
oranges from their families back home as gifts for the New Year. The
tradition quickly spread among the non-Japanese population, and
eastwards across the country: each November harvest, "The oranges were
quickly unloaded and then shipped east by rail. 'Orange Trains' –
trains with boxcars painted orange – alerted everyone along the way
that the irresistible oranges from
Japan were back again for the
holidays. For many, the arrival of Japanese mandarin oranges signaled
the real beginning of the holiday season."
Mandarin oranges covered with snow
This Japanese tradition merged with European traditions related to the
Saint Nicholas is said to have put gold coins into
the stockings of three poor girls so that they would be able to afford
to get married. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls
instead of bags of gold, and oranges became a symbolic stand-in for
these gold balls, and are put in
Christmas stockings in Canada
along with chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.
Satsumas were also grown in the
United States from the early 1900s,
Japan remained a major supplier. U.S. imports of these
Japanese oranges was suspended due to hostilities with
World War II. While they were one of the first Japanese goods
allowed for export after the end of the war, residual hostility led to
the rebranding of these oranges as "mandarin" oranges.
The delivery of the first batch of mandarin oranges from
Japan in the
port of Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada), is greeted with a
festival that combines Santa Claus and Japanese dancers—young
girls dressed in traditional kimonos.
In Russia, mandarin oranges (tangerines)[clarification needed] have
traditionally been supplied from
Morocco (though there exists a theory
that it was only used to mask the supplies of Israeli tangerines
during the period of particularly bad relations between
Soviet Union) and are associated with that country,
even though nowadays they are also supplied from other countries, e.g.
Israel and Egypt. Another major supplier was a
domestic region of
Abkhazia in the Caucasus, and even after the
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union it continued to supply its
characteristically yellow-greenish and particularly aromatic fruits to
the central Russian regions. The eastern parts of the country, in
turn, were generally supplied from
China or Vietnam, and continue so
nowadays, with the characteristic 10 and 20-pound plastic and
cardboard boxes being the ubiquitous seasonal sight. Anyway,
regardless of the supplier or variety, mandarin oranges were and are
an iconic symbol of winter and the holiday season in Russia, in an
interesting parallel with the same status it holds in Japan.
Christmas fruit imported to North America was mostly
Dancys, but now it is more often a hybrid.
Mandarins are one of the core ancestral citrus taxa, and are thought
to have evolved in Vietnam, south China, and Japan. The Tanaka
classification system divided mandarins and similar fruit into
numerous species, giving distinct names to cultivars such as
willowleaf mandarins (C. deliciosa), satsumas (C. unshiu), tangerines
(C. tangerina). Under the Swingle system, all these are considered to
be varieties of a single species,
Citrus reticulata. Hodgson
represented them as several subgroups: common (C. reticulata),
Satsuma,King (C. nobilis), Mediterranean (willowleaf), small-fruited
(C. indica, C. tachibana and C. reshni), and mandarin hybrids.
Genetic analysis is consistent with mandarins representing a single
species, with much of the variation within mandarins being due to
hybridization. There are only a small number of genetically-pure
cultivars, including the Nanfengmiju, the Sun Chu Sha mandarin and the
Tachibana, the latter of which is sufficiently divergent to be
classified as a distinct subspecies. The majority represent
hybrids with pomelo (C. maxima). A large group of mandarin cultivars
appear to have originated with a small number of initial
mandarin-pomelo hybrids that were then backcrossed to produce
mandarins with limited pomelo contribution. Of these, an 'acidic'
group including Sunki and Cleopatra mandarins, previously thought to
be pure, contain a small region of introgressed pomelo DNA that
results in them being too sour to be edible, but they are still widely
used as rootstock and grown for juice. Another group of
mandarins, including some tangerines, Satsuma and King mandarins, show
a greater pomelo contribution and derive from the limited-pomelo
hybrids being crossed with sweet orange or pomelo, again followed by
backcrossing in some cases. The hybrid mandarins are thus on a
continuum with clementines, sweet and sour oranges, and
grapefruit. Mandarins and their hybrids are sold under a variety
Dried mandarin peel used as a seasoning
Chocolate-coated citrus peel
Canned and peeled mandarin orange segments
Citrus reticulata Blanco) A rare non-hybrid
citrus. One of the most widely cultivated varieties in China.
Sun Chu Sha
Species names are those from the Tanaka system. Recent genomic
analysis would place them all in
Kinnow, a 'King' (
Citrus nobilis) × 'Willow Leaf' (
deliciosa) cross, developed by Dr H.B. Frost
Cleopatra mandarin, acidic mandarin containing very small amount
of pomelo introgression
Sunki, acidic mandarin containing very small amount of pomelo
Citrus tangerina) is a grouping used for several
distinct mandarin hybrids. Those sold in the US as tangerines have
usually been Dancy, Sunburst or Murcott (Honey) cultivars. Some
tangerine-grapefruit hybrids are legally sold as tangerines in the
Citrus × deliciosa), a
Citrus reticulata), a mandarin–pomelo hybrid
Citrus reticulata), or simply Kishu, close clonal relative
of Huanglingmiao, the two sharing a common origin before diverging as
they were propagated
Citrus nobilis) a heterogeneous group that includes at least
four distinct mandarin-pomelo hybrids.
King (in full, 'King of Siam',
Citrus nobilis) a Kunenbo mandarin with
high levels of pomelo admixture, sometimes classed as a
Kinnow (see image), a King-Willowleaf hybrid.
Citrus unshiu), a mandarin-pomelo hybrid with more pomelo
than seen in most mandarins, derived from a Huanglingmiao/Kishu
backcross of a (non-King) Kunenbo that was a
Huanglingmiao/Kishu-pomelo mix. It is a seedless variety, of
which there are over 200 cultivars, including Wenzhou migana, Owari,
and mikan; the source of most canned mandarins, and popular as a fresh
fruit due to its ease of consumption
Owari, a well-known Satsuma cultivar that ripens during the late
Komikan, a variety of Kishumikan
Citrus reticulata), a mandarin–pomelo hybrid
Dancy tangerine (
Citrus tangerina) is a hybrid, the cross of a
Ponkan with another unidentified hybrid mandarin. Until the 1970s,
most tangerines grown and eaten in the USA were Dancys, and it was
known as "
Christmas tangerine" and zipper-skin tangerine
Citrus iyo), a cross between the
Dancy tangerine and another
Japanese mandarin variety, the kaikoukan.
Bang Mot tangerine, a mandarin variety popular in Thailand.
Citrus depressa), a very sour mandarin grown for its acidic
juice, has admixture from both pomelo and citron
Tangelos, a generic term for modern mandarin (tangerine)-pomelo and
Mandelo or 'cocktail grapefruit', a cross between a Dancy/King
mixed mandarin and a pomelo. The term is also sometimes used
generically, like tangelo, for recent mandarin-pomelo hybrids.
The sour orange (
Citrus x aurantium) derives from a direct cross
between a pure mandarin and a pomelo
Citrus x limon), a sour orange-citron hybrid.
Citrus x latifolia), a lemon-
Key lime cross
Bergamot orange (
Citrus x bergamia), a lemon-sour orange backcross
Citrus limetta), a distinct sour orange-citron hybrid
The common sweet orange (
Citrus x sinensis), derives from a cross
between non-pure mandarin and pomelo parents
Tangors, or Temple oranges, are crosses between the mandarin orange
and the common sweet orange; their thick rind is easy to peel and
its bright orange pulp is sour-sweet and full-flavored. Some such
hybrids are commonly called mandarins or tangerines.
Citrus × clementina), a spontaneous hybrid between a
Willowleaf mandarin orange and a sweet orange. sometimes known
as a "Thanksgiving Orange" or "
Christmas orange", as its peak season
is winter; an important commercial mandarin orange form, having
displaced mikans in many markets
Clemenules or Nules, a variety of
Clementine named for the Valencian
town where it was first bred in 1953; it is the most popular variety
Clementine grown in Spain.
Fairchild is a hybrid of
Clementine and Orlando, a tangelo
Murcott, a mandarin–sweet orange hybrid.
Tango is a proprietary seedless mid-late season irradiated selection
of Murcott developed by the University of California
Citrus x paradisi), the result of backcrossing the sweet
orange with pomelo
Meyer lemon (
Citrus x meyer), a cross between a mandarin × pomelo
hybrid and a citron.
Palestinian sweet lime
Palestinian sweet lime (
Citrus x limettioides), a distinct (mandarin
× pomelo) × citron hybrid
Rangpur lime (
Citrus x limonia), a pure mandarin-citron cross
Rough lemon (
Citrus x jambhiri), a pure mandarin-citron cross,
distinct from rangpur
Citrus jabara), a Kunenbo mandarin-yuzu cross.
Mangshanyegans, long thought to be mandarins, are in fact a separate
List of citrus fruits
Mandarin orange (fruit)
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Citrus reticulata at Plants for a Future
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Data related to
Citrus reticulata at Wikispecies
Mandarin Orange Nutrition Facts
UC Riverside Mandarin Variety Descriptions
Mandarin Orange – from Morton, J. (1987) Fruits of Warm Climates
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True and hybrid
Cara cara navel
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Rhobs el Arsa
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Xã Đoài orange
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Orange flower water
List of citrus fruits
Mother Orange Tree
University of California
Citrus Experiment Station
University of California, Riverside
Citrus Variety Collection
Plant List: kew-2724336