Postharvest Questions & Answers by Topic
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Is there a difference between Mandarins and Clementines? |
August-September 2012 |
I am a QA inspector at a distribution center for a large grocery chain. I was wondering what the difference is between a Clementine and a Mandarin or if there even is a difference. We received Mandarins in today instead of Clementines and I just was wondering if they are technically the same thing, just different names? Thanks for your help. (J.H.) |
My name is Tracy Kahn, and Dr. Mary Lu Arpaia asked me to provide you with some information about this topic. I am the curator of one of the most diverse collections of Citrus and Citrus relatives here at the University of California – Riverside. I also conduct research on new cultivars of citrus that are imported into California and the US. In addition the Citrus Variety Collection has a website (http://www.citrusvariety.ucr.edu) that I thought you might like to know about since you are asking questions about Clementines and Mandarins.
Mandarins refer to a group of cultivars and includes Clementine and Satsuma and many other mandarins. There are actually many selections of Clementine mandarins and some are more commercial than others with Clemenules Clementine being the most commercially grown of the Clementine mandarins. If you have heard of “Cuties” they are a marketing name used to pack Clementine mandarins before Christmas generally and W. Murcotts and Tango mandarins after the holidays. The word tangerine is often used interchangeably with the word mandarin but actually the term tangerine was coined for brightly colored sweet mandarins that were originally shipped out of the port of Tangiers Morocco to Florida in the late 1800s and the term stuck. Below this email note is the link and a section from the Citrus Industry Volume I Chapter 4 about mandarins. Another interesting thing about mandarins is that we now know that there were three basic citrus types (mandarin, citron and pummelo) and that others that we think of as basic types or species (sweet oranges, sour oranges, grapefruits) are actually ancient hybrids or backcrosses of theses. Also, many of the cultivars that we think of as mandarins or tangerines may in fact not be true mandarins, but actually mandarin hybrids.
--Tracy L. Kahn, Ph.D.