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The tangerine (Citrus tangerina)[1] is an orange-colored citrus fruit which is closely related to the Mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata). Taxonomically, it may be named as a subspecies or variety of Citrus reticulata; further work seems to be required to ascertain its correct scientific name[2]. Tangerines are smaller than common oranges, and are usually easier to peel and to split into segments. The taste is considered less sour, but stronger tasting, than that of an orange. While less sour, tangerines are considered to be sweeter than oranges.[3]

What can be considered by some to be a good tangerine will be firm to slightly soft, heavy for its size, and pebbly-skinned with no deep grooves, as well as orange in color. Peak tangerine season lasts from October to April in the Northern Hemisphere. Tangerines are most commonly peeled and eaten out of hand. The fresh fruit is also used in salads, desserts and main dishes. The peel is dried and used in Sichuan cuisine. Fresh tangerine juice and frozen juice concentrate are commonly available in the United States. The number of seeds in each segment (carpel) varies greatly.

A popular alternative to tangerines are clementines, which are called seedless tangerines and are also a variant of the mandarin orange.


Tangerines have been cultivated for over 3,000 years in China.[citation needed] They are also high in concentration in present day Burma.[citation needed] Tangerines have been found in many shapes and sizes, from as small as a small walnut, to larger than an average orange.


Honey tangerines (murcotts as it is called in the industry) are the most widely grown tangerine,[4] trailed by the sunburst tangerine,[5] and with lowest amount of acreage the fallglo.

One of the oldest and formerly most popular varieties is the Dancy tangerine, but it is no longer widely grown.[6] The Dancy was known as the zipper-skin tangerine, and also as the kid-glove orange, for its loose, pliable peel.

The ponkan or Chinese honey tangerine is very popular around Melrose, Florida, where it was introduced from China by a missionary, Rev. Barrington, in 1883. It is easily peeled, much like a Satsuma mandarin, but has more flavor and grows true from the seeds. Growing tangerines from the seeds may take longer, as usually seven or eight years are required before the first fruit, but the trees will be more cold hardy than a similar grafted tree (even if grafted onto the cold hardy trifoliate orange rootstock) and larger. Seedlings must be kept moist until planting. If they dry out they will not germinate. Oranges do not always come true from seeds due to pollination and hybridization problems, but nearly all tangerines can be grown true from seed, contrary to popular notions.


Tangerines are a good source of vitamin C, folate and beta-carotene.They also contain some potassium, magnesium and vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Tangerine oil, like all citrus oils, has limonene as its major constituent, but also alpha-pinene, myrcene, gamma-terpinene, citronellal, linalool, neral, neryl acetate, geranyl acetate, geraniol, thymol, and carvone.

New research from The University of Western Ontario has discovered a substance in tangerine skins that not only prevents obesity in mice, but also offers protection against type 2 diabetes, and even atherosclerosis, the underlying disease responsible for most heart attacks and strokes. Murray Huff, a vascular biology scientist at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, along with Erin Mulvihill, a PhD student, studied the effects of a flavonoid in tangerines called Nobiletin. Their research is published in the journal Diabetes.[7] [8]

Origin of the name

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “tangerine” was originally an adjective meaning “Of or pertaining to, or native of Tangier, a seaport in Morocco, on the Strait of Gibraltar” and “a native of Tangier.” The OED cites this usage from Addison’s The Tatler in 1710 with similar uses from the 1800’s. The adjective was applied to the fruit, once known scientifically as “Citrus nobilis var. Tangeriana” which grew in the region of Tangiers. This usage appears in the 1800’s. See the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1989.

Written on June 11th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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