What is it?, History, cultivation, nutritional value, uses, recipes, and more...

The tangerine is a species of the Citrus genus, native to Southeast Asia and the Philippines. The flesh of this fruit is composed of segments filled with juice that contains a high amount of vitamin C, flavonoids, and essential oils. Currently, Peru is the sixth-largest global supplier of this popular fruit.

What is a Tangerine?

The tangerine comes from the mandarin tree, a perennial fruit tree with characteristics similar to an orange, albeit slightly smaller, measuring between 2 and 6 meters in height. It has a frequently twisted trunk and is spineless. The leaves are oblong or elliptic-lanceolate, ranging from 3.5 to 8 centimeters in length and 1.5 to 4 centimeters in width, with serrated margins and an obtuse apex. Its inflorescences are axillary or terminal, with 1 to 4 small white flowers measuring 1.5 to 2.5 centimeters in diameter. These flowers are highly fragrant when crushed.

The fruit, the tangerine, is globular in shape and slightly flattened at the poles, usually measuring between 5 and 8 centimeters in diameter. It has a yellowish, orange, or reddish-orange color and has a shiny and thin skin marked by numerous oil glands that exude the same fragrance as the flowers. The fruit’s peel is thin, rough, and easily detachable from the flesh, which is typically divided into 10 or 12 segments and has a pleasant sweet taste, as well as being highly aromatic.

History of Tangerines

Tangerines are believed to originate from tropical regions of Asia. They have been cultivated in China for millennia. The first reference to this fruit dates back to the 12th century B.C. Its name is believed to come from the color of the robes worn by mandarins in ancient China.

The tangerine likely spread from its place of origin to most of Southeast Asia and parts of India. By the 10th century, tangerines were extensively cultivated in the southern prefectures of Japan.

In the early 19th century, the Englishman Abraham Hume imported two varieties of mandarin trees from China, introducing the fruit to Europe. Shortly after, some of these trees were sent to Italy and Malta.

Today, the main tangerine-producing countries are Spain, China, Morocco, Turkey, and South Africa.

mandarina origen foods superalimentos peruanos
ChinoChu, Ju, o Chieh
italiano y españolMandarino
IndiaSantara o Suntara

Citrus reticulata



EspecieC. reticulata Blanco
  • Citrus × aurantium f. deliciosa (Ten.) M.Hiroe


  • Citrus × aurantium f. deliciosa (Ten.) Hiroë


  • Citrus × aurantium var. tachibana Makino


  • Citrus aurantium var. tachibana Makino


  • Citrus chrysocarpa Lush.


  • Citrus daoxianensis S.W.He & G.F.Liu


  • Citrus deliciosa Ten.


  • Citrus depressa Hayata


  • Citrus erythrosa Yu.Tanaka


  • Citrus himekitsu Yu.Tanaka


  • Citrus madurensis var. deliciosa (Ten.) Sagot


  • Citrus mangshanensis S.W.He & G.F.Liu


  • Citrus nippokoreana Yu.Tanaka


  • Citrus × nobilis var. deliciosa (Ten.) Swingle


  • Citrus nobilis var. deliciosa (Ten.) Swingle


  • Citrus × nobilis var. deliciosa (Ten.) Guillaumin


  • Citrus × nobilis var. koozi Sisb.


  • Citrus × nobilis var. major Ker Gawl.


  • Citrus × nobilis var. ponki Hayata


  • Citrus × nobilis var. poonensis Hayata


  • Citrus × nobilis var. spontanea Ito


  • Citrus × nobilis var. sunki Hayata


  • Citrus × nobilis var. tachibana (Makino) Ito


  • Citrus × nobilis var. unshiu (Marcow.) Yu.Tanaka ex Swingle


  • Citrus × nobilis var. vangasy (Bojer) Guillaumin


  • Citrus otachihana Yu.Tanaka


  • Citrus ponki Yu.Tanaka


  • Citrus poonensis Yu.Tanaka


  • Citrus reticulata var. austera Swingle


  • Citrus reticulata var. chrysocarpa (Lush.) Tanaka


  • Citrus reticulata subsp. deliciosa (Ten.) D.Rivera & al.


  • Citrus reticulata subsp. deliciosa (Ten.) Rivera, et al.


  • Citrus reticulata subsp. tachibana (Tanaka) D.Rivera & al.


  • Citrus reticulata subsp. tachibana Rivera, et al.


  • Citrus reticulata subsp. unshiu (Marcow.) D.Rivera & al.


  • Citrus reticulata subsp. unshiu (Marcov.) Rivera, et al.


  • Citrus succosa Yu.Tanaka


  • Citrus suhuiensis Hayata


  • Citrus sunki Yu.Tanaka


  • Citrus tachibana (Makino) Yu.Tanaka


  • Citrus tangerina Yu.Tanaka


  • Citrus tankan Hayata


  • Citrus unshiu Marcow.


  • Citrus vangasay Bojer


  • Citrus vangasy Bojer

The word “Tangerine” probably comes from the term “mandarin,” alluding to the color of the mandarins’ robes, the high-ranking officials in ancient China.

Habitat of Tangerines

Habitat of Tangerines

Tangerines are subtropical species that do not tolerate frost (the plant dies at temperatures below -3 to -5 degrees Celsius). It is a plant that does not require chilling hours for flowering and does not go into winter dormancy. This plant requires significant precipitation (around 1,200 mm) and warm temperatures during the summer for proper fruit ripening. It is a species that requires light for the processes of flowering and fruiting, which primarily occur on the outer part of the canopy and the lower branches of the tree.

Additionally, tangerines are very sensitive to wind and prefer sandy or sandy loam soils that are deep, cool, and free of limestone, with a pH between 6 and 7.

Tangerines grow best at elevations between 400 and 1300 meters above sea level. They do not tolerate salinity and thrive in low humidity levels, ranging from 60% to 70%.

Geographic Distribution of Tangerines


Lima, Ica

Seasonal Availability of Tangerines

Varieties of Tangerines

There are many varieties of tangerines resulting from mutations between different species, but typically:

  • In Peru, the most notable types of tangerines are:

    Clementine W. Murcott Satsuma

  • They can be classified into 4 groups:

    Satsuma Mandarins Clementine Mandarins Common Mandarins Other mandarins

Nutritional Value of Tangerines

Tangerines are an important source of vitamin C, which helps heal wounds and form scar tissue, promoting iron absorption. Additionally, tangerine essential oil possesses antimicrobial properties that prevent infection of wounds and protect them from viruses, fungi, and bacterial infections.

According to recent studies, long-term consumption of tangerine juice can reduce total cholesterol (LDL). Furthermore, its consumption helps reduce the risk of heart disease and strengthens the immune system. Tangerines are also rich in folic acid, magnesium, vitamin A, fiber, and potassium, which contributes to reducing blood pressure.

It is believed that terpenes and polyphenols, substances present in tangerines, have the ability to interfere with the growth and occurrence of cancer and may enhance the anticancer potential of compounds found in other foods.

Health Benefits of Tangerines

Tangerines are a fruit rich in vitamins C, A, folic acid, minerals, and polyphenols that strengthen our defenses.

Contraindications or Side Effects

Tangerines have few known side effects. It is recommended not to consume excessive amounts of tangerines if suffering from mouth ulcers or experiencing frequent heartburn. It is also contraindicated for individuals allergic to citric acid and may potentially damage tooth enamel if proper oral hygiene is not maintained.


Tabla Nutricional

10 Porciones por Kilogramo
Tamaño de porción 100g
Cantidad por porción

Cantidad por 100g
Energía121 kJ
Grasa Total0.3 g
Carbohidratos totales8.6 g
    Carbohidratos disponibles6.8 g
    Fibra Dietaria1.8 g
Proteínas0.6 g
Calcio19 mg
Fósforo17 mg
Zinc0.07 mg
Hierro0.30 mg
Agua90.1 g
Cenizas0.4 g
Vitamina A34 μg
Tiamina (B1)0.06 mg
Riboflavina (B2)0.05 mg
Niacina (B3)0.30 mg
Vitamina C48.70 mg
Acido Fólico (B9)
Fuente: Tablas peruanas de composición de alimentos – Centro Nacional de Alimentación y Nutrición – Ministerio de Salud – Perú

Derived Products and Forms of Consumption of Tangerines

Tangerine liqueur
Ice cream

Uses of Tangerines

Thanks to its exquisite flavor and easy consumption, it is undeniable that the main use of tangerines is culinary. However, they are also known for their abundant nutritional and medicinal properties.

Culinary Use of Tangerines

Tangerines have a sweet and refreshing taste that is very appetizing whether consumed as fresh fruit, in the form of juices, or in various dishes. The segments of this citrus fruit are often used in pastry as a decorative ingredient for tarts and cakes. Tangerines are also used to make juices, sorbets, ice cream, marmalade, sweets, candies, and liqueurs.

In the East, it is common to cook exquisite sauces that accompany dishes with meats, poultry, and fish, or they are even added to raw salads, combined with vegetables.

To choose the best tangerines, it is recommended to select those with a higher weight in proportion to their size, as it indicates that they are full of juice. It is also recommended to choose tangerines with soft but not wrinkled skin, which is well adhered to the segments. The stem of the fruit should be cut flush, and its smell should be sweet and intense.

Medicinal Use of Tangerines

Among its main preventive and medicinal uses are:

It is a great source of dietary fiber, promoting the digestive process and intestinal transit, combating constipation, reducing cholesterol levels, and helping control blood glucose levels.

Due to its high content of vitamin A and vitamin C, it has a powerful antioxidant effect that neutralizes free radicals, preventing premature aging and various diseases.

Due to its high water content and satiating effect, it is an ally for weight loss.

It provides minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which contribute to the proper functioning of muscles, the generation and transmission of nerve impulses, and the water balance of cells.

Thanks to its high content of folic acid, it benefits pregnancy by preventing fetal malformations and spina bifida. It also supports the synthesis of genetic material, the formation of antibodies, and the production of red and white blood cells.

Due to its high calcium content, it helps maintain strong bones and prevent diseases such as osteoporosis.

Due to its folate and vitamin C content, it aids in iron absorption and benefits red blood cell production, preventing leukemia.

It helps eliminate uric acid thanks to its diuretic properties.

It benefits the heart by preventing the hardening of arteries and cardiovascular diseases.

Various studies have concluded that tangerines have the power to fight cancer, especially liver cancer.

Industrial Use of Tangerines

On an industrial level, tangerines can be used for the production of various derived products such as juice, preserves, confectionery, tangerine liqueur, extraction of essential oils used in the manufacturing of liqueurs, production of refreshing beverages, among others.

Additionally, thanks to their rich antioxidant properties, they are also employed in the pharmaceutical industry for cosmetics and perfumes. Furthermore, their essential oils are used as flavorings and fragrances, and dehydrated peels, from which pectins are obtained, are utilized by the pharmaceutical industry.

In 2020, the Peruvian agro-export industry dedicated to the commercialization of tangerines grew by 8% compared to the previous year, reaching sales of US$ 234 million and consolidating its position as the sixth-largest supplier of this fruit worldwide.


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