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Mandarin, Tangerine
Latin Name:

Citrus reticulata



CTFA name:

Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel


Native to Southeast Asia, mandarins and tangerines are citrus fruits produced on large shrubs or small spiny trees1  that grow to 20 feet in height.2  The tree produces small fragrant white flowers in spring and summer followed by yellow to red-orange fruits1  that begin appearing in autumn and peak in winter.3  

History and Cultural Significance

The classification of these citrus fruits is complex and confusing, with sources often contradicting one another. One botanical classification of Citrus reticulata groups mandarins, tangerines, and satsumas together, which many consider an oversimplification.2,4,5  Others have them listed as different species and hybrids but group them as mandarins.6  Some sources list tangerines as a cultivar or subgroup of mandarins.3  Because their uses overlap and are often interchangeable, they are discussed together in this overview with mandarins being originally from Asia and Europe and tangerines from the U.S.

Modern Research

Mandarins are grown in Italy, Spain, the Mediterranean, the Middle East,7  and in several provinces of China.7,8  Tangerines are cultivated in many regions of the United States and in Guinea.2  The fruit and outer peel are primarily used, but not exclusively.1  

Future Outlook

The species name reticulata is Latin for netted which refers to the net-like fibrous strands under the easily removed peel.8  Highly prized for its flavor and fragrance,5  the fruit was given to the Mandarins who were high officials in the Chinese Empire3  as a traditional gift.2  When the fruit was introduced into Europe in 1805, it was nicknamed mandarins by Sir Abraham Hume and was either a reference to the color the Mandarins wore or implied superiority.3  In the 1840s, they were shipped from Tangiers, a seaport in Morocco, to the United States, where they were renamed tangerines.3,9  


1  Bown D. The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses. London: Dorling Kindersley Ltd.; 2001.

2  Lawless J. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy and Herbalism. Dorset, UK: Element Books, Ltd; 1995.

3  Onstad D. Whole Foods Companion: A Guide for Adventurous Cooks, Curious Shoppers & Lovers of Natural Foods. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company; 1996.

4  Facciola S. Cornucopia: A Source Book of Edible Plants. Vista, CA: Kampong Publications; 1990.

5  Davidson A. The Oxford Companion to Food. London: Oxford University Press; 1999.

6  Ortiz JM. Botany: taxonomy, morphology and physiology of fruits, leaves and flowers. In: Dugo G, Di Giacomo A, eds. Citrus: The genus Citrus. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis Inc; 2002.

7  Arctander S. Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin. Carol Stream, IL: Allured Publishing Corporation; 1994.

8  Wood R. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Resource For Healthy Eating. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc; 1999.

9  Holmes P. Jade Remedies: A Chinese Herbal Reference for the West. Boulder, CO: Snow Lotus Press, Inc; 1996.

10  Schnaubelt K. Beasley JM, trans. Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy. 1st ed. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press; 1998.

11  Li Y, Xu C, Zhang Q, Liu JY, Tan RX. In vitro anti-Helicobacter pylori action of 30 Chinese herbal medicines used to treat ulcer diseases. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;98(3):329-33.

12  Kim MJ, Park HJ, Hong MS, et al. Citrus Reticulata Blanco induces apoptosis in human gastric cancer cells SNU-668. Nutr Cancer. 2005;51(1):78-82.