What is the difference between tangerines, clementines and mandarins?
Tangerines, clementines, mandarins, satsumas — there are so many names used to describe small, round, orange citrus fruits. But which is which, what are the differences, and how can you tell them all apart?
Mandarins are a kind of orange — the mandarin is actually the original ancestor of all other oranges. They are flatter on both ends than the typical sweet orange, and easy to peel. Is this sounding familiar? It should! The term mandarin in used interchangeably with the term tangerine in many countries, and in some cases for good reason — those thin-skinned tangerines are a type of mandarin! That’s right: Tangerines, with their bright orange, slightly mottled, pebbly skin (that is a bit tougher than a clementine’s) and their sweet-tart flavor, are one of the larger members of the mandarin family.
Clementines are also a kind of mandarin, though they are the smallest member of the family, adored for their sweet and seedless segments and smooth, deep orange, glossy peel.
Satsumas are yet another kind of mandarin orange, originating in Japan. They are the smallest, most tender and sweetest variety and are also the easiest kind to peel. Because they are so small and tender, they are also the most fragile kind of mandarin, which means they might be harder to find in supermarkets.
Apparently the clementine is a mandarin hybrid originating from Algeria, although there are various conflicting stories on this one. The clementine tends to taste less acidic than a regular mandarin or orange.
The clementine is a heavy cropper that produces deep orange-coloured fruit, which can be seedless, the fruit matures in early April-May. Clementine is vigorous in habit and is a very productive tree.
The specific variety that is available through the nursery should fruit in the second autumn after you have planted them, given they receive good nurture and optimal conditions and as with all of our citrus trees we recommend regular feeding with Organic Life (slow release fertiliser) on a monthly basis if in a pot or quarterly if planted in a garden bed.