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CITRUS reticulata

Image of Citrus reticulata

Forest & Kim Starr

Family

Rutaceae

Botanical Name

CITRUS reticulata

Plant Common Name

Clementine, Mandarin, Tangerine

General Description

Easy to peel and eat, tangerines delight children and adults alike. These small to medium-sized evergreen fruit trees have been grown for centuries and are highly prized by cultures across the world. Originating from southeastern Asia and the Philippines, they were eventually moved along Asian trade routes through to the Mediterranean and Europe. Between 1840 and 1850, plants were first brought to the United States via New Orleans and later shipped to Florida and California where many commercial groves exist today. Tangerines are also produced in large numbers in Mexico and shipped worldwide.

Also known as mandarins and clementines, tangerine trees have spreading, open crowns covered with glossy, elliptical, fragrant leaves with slightly winged stems and minute teeth along the edges. Flowers appear from very late winter to spring and may be single or clustered. In bud they are red or purple-hued and open to reveal white fragrant blooms that are highly attractive to honeybees, which produce tangerine honey. The fruits are fragrant, round and flattened at the ends and have loose, leathery skin that becomes bright orange to red-orange when ripe. The juicy, sweet sections have many or few seeds, depending on the variety.

Fruits usually ripen in winter and are clipped from the trees for harvest to avoid damage to their skin. Trees are often alternate bearing, which means they produce a heavy crop one year and a lighter crop the next.

Cold sensitive, but more tolerant than other citrus, tangerines prefer locations with warm, dry winters, and cool summers. They require full sun and are tolerant of most soils, even poor soils, with ample drainage. Though moderately drought tolerant once established, they must have regular applications of water for good fruit production. Regular fertilization is also required as they are heavy feeders. Tangerine trees are smaller that other citrus, but still need plenty of space for their spreading crowns to grow. There are a multitude of varieties available, some ideal for commercial production and others best suited to backyard orchards. Most are grafted on to rootstocks, which impart tolerances to soils, pests and climate conditions. Popular cultivars include ‘Clementine', 'Dancy', ' Fremont' and ‘Ponkan’.

Mandarins make good tub or conservatory specimens where not hardy and attract the North America giant swallowtail butterfly which uses this and other citrus as larval food.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Fruit

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    15'-25' / 4.6m - 7.6m

  • Width

    10'-25' / 3.0m - 7.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Red, Purple

  • Fruit Color

    Red, Orange

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Gray Green, Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Houseplant, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No