Mandarin Oranges, Tangerine

S & J Nursery’s Guide to …

Growing Mandarin Orange ( Tangerine)

Trees for the Northeast Florida Landscape

(Citrus reticulata)

What Makes an Orange a Mandarin Orange

 Mandarin oranges are set apart from sweet oranges by the following distinguishing characteristics.

– Peels of Mandarin oranges separate easily from the flesh

– Green seed cotyledons

– Flowers that rarely form a branches inflorescence.

Some Mandarin oranges are native to India, some originate in Malaysia and then some originated in China.

All varieties of Mandarin orange grown in Florida are marketed as Tangerines.


Typical Mandarin Orange and Tangerine

Citrus Fruit Characteristics


– Mandarin oranges are frequently referred out as “zipper skinned oranges” and soft citrus because of the ease of removing the skin from the flesh of the citrus fruit.

– The segments of mandarin oranges separate easily from one another without much of a mess making them ideal for quick snacks, school lunches and dessert fruits.

– Small, sweet fruits with little to no seeds and exceptional flavor!


– If left on the tree after they have fully matured, fruit segments will become dry and separate from the skin resulting in a puffy fruit that damages easily during, harvest, in transport, and in storage.

– Mandarin (tangerine)oranges have alternate bearing cycles. That is to say that they bear mass quantities of smaller fruit one year and very small quantities of larger fruits the next. And the cycle repeats. 

– Tangerine fruits produced on the interior branches of the tree will have less color and fruit quality than those on the outside of the branches due to low light levels resulting in lower natural sugars in the trees interior fruits. 

These problematic characteristics of mandarin oranges are more of a concern to growers than home orchardists as we are not trying to get the maximum dollar per acre out of our citrus trees but just like something that makes a sweet treat to eat. For the home gardener the pros of mandarin oranges and tangerines outweigh the negatives easily.


Mandarin vs… Tangerine

What is All The Confusion About Anyway?

This is something that has frustrated me a bit for quite a while, I always second guess myself when I answer this question, so I’m glad I had the chance to finally put this question to rest for my own sanity.

The term tangerine was used as a synonym for mandarin orange used for fruits being shipped from Tangier, Morocco to England.

According to the book “Citrus Growing in Florida”, Authors Frederick S. Davies and Larry K. Jackson state the following…

“At one time, cultivars with yellow orange peels were called mandarins and those with reddish-orange peels, tangerines.”…” Mandarin is the preferred term worldwide except in Florida and for some cultivars in Australia.” 

Thanks to “Citrus Growing in Florida” the answer is simple and concise, they are the same thing!(Its a great book, and if you want detailed information on growing Citrus in Florida I highly recommend it!)

So the mandarin orange and the tangerine are the same thing all over the world, except everyone else calls them mandarins and we like to call them tangerines here in Florida!

 History of Mandarin Oranges in Northeast Florida

The first Mandarin oranges introduced to Florida were thought to have been brought over in 1825. The area of Northeast Florida along the Eastern banks of the St. Johns river, north of Julington Creek and south of Beuclere was once known as the village of Monroe. It’s name was changed in 1830 by Calvin Reed to Mandarin, a tribute to this fabulous fruit.

Mandarin was a small farming village that shipped oranges, grapefruits, lemons and other vegetables and fruits to Jacksonville and farther North on steamships that traveled the St. Johns river.

Of coarse, Mandarin is now considered part of Jacksonville, but its tie to the mandarin orange citrus tree is a unique portion of our areas history.


Varieties of Mandarin Orange For Northeast Florida

 mandarin, Satsuma  (citrus unshiu)