The Tangerine is a Delicious Little Fruit That Has Come a Long Way

Tangerines are easy-to-peel, reddish-orange hybrid citrus fruits which resulted from the cross-breeding of mandarin orange and pomelo. They are typically referred to as “baby oranges” because of their small size, flattened tops, and less rounded body. Tangerines are also more flavorful, sweeter, and less acidic than regular oranges making them a favorite among kids and adults alike.

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Tangerine Origin

The Tangerine fruit is not indigenous to the USA. So you must be asking, “Where did Tangerines come from?” The origin of Tangerine is Southeast Asia, probably Japan or China, where the culture of cultivating the Tangerine fruit tree spread westward as far as the Mediterranean through the Silk Road trade route. The Tangerine fruit got its name from the Moroccan seaport of Tangiers, the port used to transport the fruit to other parts of the world.

It first arrived in the U.S. in the mid-19th century and was planted in the consulate garden of New Orleans by an Italian diplomat. From there, the delicious Tangerine citrus traveled to Florida where it became a thriving commercial citrus crop.   


Here we have prepared answers for some of the most frequently asked questions about Tangerines.

  • Do Tangerines grow on trees? – Tangerine fruits grow on trees and are in season from late October through January.
  • Where do Tangerines come from? – Tangerines are native to Southeast Asian countries like Japan, China, and northeastern India.
  • Where are Tangerines grown? – In the United States, Tangerine trees are propagated for commercial purposes in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
  • What is the typical Tangerine tree size? – Tangerine trees are smaller than orange trees and typically grow to up to 12 or 14 feet but tend to be smaller when planed in a container.
  • How long does a Tangerine tree take to grow? – A grafted Tangerine tree reaches maturity in 3 to 4 years.
  • How long does it take a Tangerine tree to produce fruit? – Grafted Tangerine trees can start bearing fruits in 3-4 years, way earlier than trees grown from seeds, which may take 10-15 years.

Best Tangerine Tree

It is impossible to resist picking a bright, red-orange fruit hanging delicately on a thornless, small-sized Tangerine tree planted in your backyard. It is hard to pass up a ripe, sweet, and juicy Tangerine that is freshly picked from a tree during the fruiting season. Here are must-have Tangerine tree cultivars you should plant in your backyard:

  • Honey Tangerine Tree – This cultivar is another result of a cross between a sweet orange cultivar and a Tangerine variety. The cold-hardy Murcott or Honey Tangerine tree has an upright, willow-like growth habit adorned with glossy, lance-shaped green leaves that remains evergreen in all 4 seasons. This cultivar produces the sweetest Tangerine fruits that are superior in flavor when compared with other Tangerines.
  • Sunburst Tangerine Tree – This evergreen Tangerine tree is a must-have tree if you have kids or pets at home because it is naturally thornless. The tree also grows to up 12 feet tall but can be kept smaller through pruning. The Sunburst Tangerine tree produces easy-to-peel dark-orange fruits that are extremely juicy, sweet, and mildly acidic.
  • Algerian Tangerine Tree – This cultivar is among one of the smallest citrus fruits grown in the US, with the fruits generally measuring less than 2½ inches in diameter. However, what it lacks in size it compensates with juiciness and sweetness that is often described as melting and refreshing. Aside from its sweet and tender fruits, the Algerian Tangerine is also a prized ornamental tree because of its showy dense foliage that has an attractive weeping growth habit.