Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Difference Between Mandarin, Tangerine, and Clementine

Did you ever wonder why there are several names to what seems to be one fruit? Well, that's because even though Mandarin, Tangerine, and Clementine may look slightly similar, but they happen to be different fruits, which all fall under the genus Citrus.

We know that oranges were cultivated ages ago. Mandarins oranges — in all their forms – have probably descended from wild oranges which grew in northeast India as far as 3,000 years ago. From India, mandarins made their way to China then to Europe, North Africa, and Australia before reaching other parts of the world.

The following are the differences between those often confused fruits.

(Citrus reticulata), also known as mandarin oranges, are a type of small oranges with loose skin which have originated in China, hence the name. With over 12 million tons harvested each year, China remains by far the largest grower and consumer in the world.


Tangerines (Citrus tangerina) are reddish-orange mandarins with a particular citrus taste which is sweeter and stronger than that of oranges. They are less sour, have seeds, and can be easily peeled. The fruit arrived in Europe in the 1800s by way of North Africa, where a large varietal was grown in Morocco. Exported through the port of Tangier, the fruit became known as Tangerine.

However, the name, which first came into common usage in the United States,
is strictly a marketing name and has no authentic botanical standing. Depending on the geographical location, we find that tangerine is oftentimes used interchangeably with “mandarin”.

Australia, the fruit is simply known as a Mandarin.

In Telugu, Portugal, and throughout the Caribbean,
tangerine is referred to as Kamala kaya.

In the Arab world, it's 
Yusuf Effendi — attributed to the person who first introduced the fruit to Egypt during the era of Muhammed Ali, Yusuf Effendi al-Armani who brought the mandarin saplings from the Island of Malta.

Clementines (Citrus ×clementina) are small seedless mandarins that are are typically juicy, sweet, and with less acid than oranges. Since it is sterile (no seeds), clementine shoots need to be budded onto other varietals. This varietal was created by Frère Marie-Clement Rodier, a French missionary brother in Algeria, in the beginning of the 20th century. The clergyman crossed a mandarin and an orange, and the lucky crossing was a seedless mandarin with a looser skin, thus easier to peel: the clementine.

Many citrus botanists, however, refer to clementine as “Canton mandarin” the one found in China.
Another variety of seedless mandarin is the Japanese Satsuma derived from the former Satsuma Province in Japan, from which these hybrid fruits were first exported to the West. 

All that said, from a quick search on the World Wide Web, one can deduct that the nomenclature of these citrus cousins vary greatly from region to region and from culture to culture. So the confusion will likely always be there.

Nutritionally speaking, all varieties of said fruits are more or less similar and they are all healthy.  They offer
Limonoids (Limonin, Nomilin), Flavonoids (different types), and Carotenoids. Equally, they are all a source of Vitamin C, B1, B6, B9, and fiber in addition to multiple other antioxidants.

And now you know.

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