Thursday, April 21, 2016

Meet the Tangerine - Citrus reticulata

The Tangerine - Citrus reticulata is also referred to as the Satsuma or Mandarin Orange.  It is a small evergreen tree that grows in a single erect form with single short trunks or low branched multi-trunks.  It has a dense crown and for the most part the branches remain spineless, though on some varieties they do bare large thorns.  They are classified in to Citrus genus,  and the Rutaceae family.

Image Citation: Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org

The leaves occur in an alternate unifoliate, lanceolate or elliptic fashion.  The margins are blunt with rounded teeth and a lustrous dark green upper surface.   The flowers are white, developing in the Spring with 5 petals that are produced in terminal clusters.  The Tangerines is native to China and has been highly cultivated in Florida but has not yet naturalized.  Many varieties and hybrid are currently cultivated and marketed in the United States.  Most of the tangerines sold in your local grocery store or farmers market are hybrid varieties and have been better developed over time for greater performance and crop production.

The citrus fruit is a vertically compressed hesperidium that is 5 - 10 cm in diameter, orange in color and a very close relative or member of the Mandarin family. They are much smaller in size then the common Orange and have a sweeter flavor.  The rind is generally thin and loose, removing easily to reveal 8-15 easily separated sections.  The fruit matures in late Fall to early Winter.  The fruit is most commonly peeled and eaten right from your hand.  It is also used as a garnish in salads, main courses, and desserts.  The juice of the Tangerines is sold in both the raw form and concentrated in the United States.  The rind can be used as a zest, flavoring or garnish either fresh or dried.  Tangerines are a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene and folate. They also contain small amounts of magnesium, Vitamin B (B1, B2 & B3), Lutein, Potassium and Zeaxanthin.  

Image Citation: Chazz Hesselein, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Bugwood.org

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