Mandarin orange



The Mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) is a tropical and sub-tropical tree belonging to the family Rutaceae. Associated with good fortune by the Chinese, it is a features prominently in local Chinese New Year celebrations.1 The fruit is high in Vitamin C and its juice is a popular drink.2

Origin and distribution
Mandarin oranges are native to the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia such as southern Asia and the Philippines.3 There are many different hybrids or varieties of Mandarins.4 Their fruits vary in size and colour, with some being seedless. Tangerines, for example, are the brightly-coloured variety of Mandarins.5


Due to the variety of Mandarins, there were probably differences in their early classification, resulting in differing scientific names such as Citrus nobilisCitrus deliciosa and Citrus chrysocarpa.6 The Mandarin orange’s most distinctive feature is its easy-to-peel skin, which is so easy to remove that they are also called kid-glove or loose-skin oranges.7

Mandarin oranges were introduced to the West at the turn of the 19th century. In 1805, two varieties of the Mandarin oranges were brought into England from Canton, China. From England, it was then introduced to the Mediterranean region. By 1850, the fruit was well-established in Italy.8 The Italian Consul in New Orleans in the United States imported Mandarin oranges from Italy between 1840 and 1850. From there the fruit spread to Florida and later to California in the U.S. In 1896, a variety of the fruit from Japan, the owari satsuma, was introduced to the U.S. and between 1908 and 1911, about a million budded trees of the same variety were sent to the Gulf for planting. Another variety of the fruit, the king mandarin, was sent from Saigon, Vietnam to California in 1882. In 1888, seeds of the oneco mandarin, which were widely grown in the Western Ghats of India, were sent to the U.S. In the early 1890s, the ponkan variety was sent to the U.S. from China, which led to the commercial propagation of mandarins there.9

The fruit was likely to have been named mandarin because it was introduced to the West by China. “Mandarin” was an English reference for Chinese government officials.10 Mandarin oranges today are commonly found in Japan, the East Indies, India, Australia and almost all tropical, sub-tropical and cooler parts of the world.11 In Southeast Asia, the Citrus reticulata and Citrus sinensis varieties are commercially grown in the cooler Cameron Highlands of Peninsular Malaysia.12 

Description
Mandarin trees are low woody shrubs commonly measuring between 3.6 to 4.5 m in height. However, these spiny trees can sometimes grow up to 8 m tall. Their bark is rather thick and brownish-yellow in colour. Older twigs tend to be dark brown while younger ones are dark green. Younger twigs are also smooth and flattened at their ends. The leaves are lanceolate or elliptic, with a yellow-green under-surface, measuring 2.5 to 10 cm long and 1 to 3.5 cm wide. The margins of the leaves are toothed from the apex to the middle of the leaf. The leaf stalks do not normally have wings, but if present, they are narrow. Flowers are white and small (about 1.5 cm in diameter) with five petals. They grow singly or in a group of two to three flowers in a stalk at leaf corners. Mandarin fruits are globose to oblate in shape with a shiny skin that comes in a range of colours from green, greenish-yellow, yellow to golden. Their skin is thin, peels easily and encloses flesh that can separate into nine to 15 wedges. The segments are covered with a very thin, edible transparent skin. The fruit’s flesh is pale orange in colour and juicy. Seeds, if present, are small, oblong and inedible.13

Usage and potential
Food
A good source of vitamins and minerals, the fruit is often consumed fresh. It can also be canned in syrup or made into juice. The fruit and rind are used to flavour cakes, pastries, gelatines, puddings, chewing gum, bakery products, and tea. Mandarin oil is used to flavour carbonated beverages.14

Medicine
Essential oil obtained by cold compression of the peel is used in aromatherapy and traditional medicine for the treatment of insomnia, as well as skin and digestive problems. Different varieties of the fruit and parts of the plant, such as the seeds, roots, leaves and flowers, are used in Chinese, Malay and Indian traditional medicine.15 Petitgrain mandarin oil is obtained from distilling leaves, twigs and unripe fruits of the plant.16 The fruit, being high in Vitamin C, is considered good for the immune system. It is supposed to help combat phlegm and keep colds at bay.17 Some varieties of the fruit contain a decongestant called synephrine.18

Other uses
The Chinese associate mandarin oranges with good luck. During Chinese New Year, mandarin oranges are given to family and friends to usher in prosperity.19 Some of the essential oil obtained from the fruit’s peel is used in the manufacture of perfumes, cologne and floral compounds.20

Variant Names
Common name
: Mandarin orange.

Scientific nameCitrus reticulata.
Malay nameLimau langkat, limau wangkas, limau kupas.21
Chinese nameCheng zi (Mandarin).
Other names: Kid glove oranges, loose-skin oranges, tangerine oranges, tangerines.22



Author

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. Hutton, W. (2000). Tropical fruits of Malaysia and Singapore. Periplus Editions, p. 17. (Call no.: RSING 634.6 HUT)
2. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia: Facts and Folklore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 43. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
3. Purdue University. (n.d.). Mandarin Orange (Citrus reticulata). Retrieved 2016, August 23 from The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/mandarin_orange.html
4. Burkill, I. H. (2002). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia, p. 581. (Call no.: RSING 634.9095951 BUR)
5. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia: Facts and Folklore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 43. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
6. Burkill, I. H. (2002). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia, p. 581. (Call no.: RSING 634.9095951 BUR)
7. Purdue University. (n.d.). Mandarin Orange (Citrus reticulata). Retrieved 2016, August 23 from The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/mandarin_orange.html
8. Purdue University. (n.d.). Mandarin Orange (Citrus reticulata). Retrieved 2016, August 23 from The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/mandarin_orange.html
9. Purdue University. (n.d.). Mandarin Orange (Citrus reticulata). Retrieved 2016, August 23 from The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/mandarin_orange.html
10. Albert, S. (7 January 2016). A History of the Mandarin Orange. Retrieved 2016, August 23 from the Harvest to Table website: http://www.harvesttotable.com/2007/01/a_history_of_the_mandarin_oran/
11. Purdue University. (n.d.). Mandarin Orange (Citrus reticulata). Retrieved 2016, August 23 from The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/mandarin_orange.html
12. Chin, H. F., & Yong, H. S. (1980). Malaysian fruits in colour. Kuala Lumpur: Tropical Press, p. 50. (Call no.: RSEA 634.609595 CHI)
13. Burkill, I. H. (2002). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia, p. 581. (Call no.: RSING 634.9095951 BUR); Yaacob Othman & Subhadrabandhu, S. (1995). The production of economic fruits in Southeast Asia. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 156. (Call no.: RSING 634.0959 OTH); Nathan, A., & Wong, Y. C. (1987). A guide to fruits and seeds. Singapore: Singapore Science Centre, p. 60. (Call no.: RSING 582 NAT)
14. Purdue University. (n.d.). Mandarin Orange (Citrus reticulata). Retrieved 2016, August 23 from The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/mandarin_orange.html
15. Burkill, I. H. (2002). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia, p. 581. (Call no.: RSING 634.9095951 BUR)
16. Wee, Y. C., & Hsuan, K. (1990). An illustrated dictionary of Chinese medicinal herbs. Singapore: Times Edition, p. 58. (Call no.: RSING 581.6340951 ILL)
17. Muhamad bin Zakaria, & Mustafa Ali Mohd. (1994). Traditional Malay medicinal plants. Kuala Lumpur: Fajar Bakti, p. 142. (Call no.: R 581.634 MUH)
18. Purdue University.(n.d.).  Mandarin Orange (Citrus reticulata). Retrieved 2016, August 23 from The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/mandarin_orange.html
19. Hutton, W. (2000). Tropical fruits of Malaysia and Singapore. Periplus Editions, p. 17. (Call no.: RSING 634.6 HUT); Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia: Facts and Folklore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 43. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
20. Purdue University. (n.d.). Mandarin Orange (Citrus reticulata). Retrieved 2016, August 23 from The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/mandarin_orange.html
21. Burkill, I. H. (2002). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia, p. 581. (Call no.: RSING 634.9095951 BUR)
22. Purdue University. Mandarin Orange (Citrus reticulata). Retrieved 2016, August 23 from The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/mandarin_orange.html



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Chinese New Year
People and communities>>Customs>>Festivities
Mandarin orange
Ethnic foods
Nature>>Plants
Citrus fruits
Ethnic Communities>>Food
Chinese--Social life and customs
Science and technology>>Agriculture>>Fruit crops
Plants