BLOG: What are Clementines, Mandarins, Satsumas and Tangerines?


What are Clementines, Mandarins, Satsumas and Tangerines?

It is confusing to browse the citrus aisle in our stores looking at easy-peelers because of the plethora of names and descriptions used: Satsumas, Clementines, Tangerines, Mandarins, etc. The list goes on, and has largely developed to help retailers differentiate a complex group of similar fruit for consumers.

The following description will help to understand these fruit a little better:


Although the name is sometimes used on retail packaging, this is actually the collective name for all easy-peeler type citrus fruit, which are thought to have originated in north-east India or south-west China. The broad similarities between these types are a small to medium size fruit, rind that peels away quite easily, sweetness, a distinctive flavour and popularity!

Mandarins are broadly categorised as Satsumas, Mediterranean Mandarins, King Mandarins, Common Mandarins, and Tangors / Tangelos. The Mediterranean and King Mandarins are of limited commercial importance, but the other three contain all the varieties that we see in our retail stores.


The Satsuma is type of mandarin and is a distinct, easily recognisable fruit, which is particularly popular in UK. It originates from Japan in its modern form of 3 or 4 varieties, such as Okitsu and Mihowase. The rind is very easy to remove, the fruit is quite delicate, and the flavour is mild with a delicious tang and background sweetness. They are also very juicy, with soft segments, which is part of the attraction. Satsumas are seasonal as they do not store well and there are few late season varieties, so there are gaps in availability in January – February and August – September.


The name Clementine covers the many different Common Mandarin varieties, as well as a fair few of the Tangors and Tangelos, so it is a type of mandarin rather than a distinct variety in itself. Most of the common easy-peeler varieties have been described as Clementines at one time or another, which is understandable as they have a similarity in the eyes of consumers, and their differences are mostly subtle until the late varieties come into the market. Clementines as a group, are small to medium in size, sweet, generally seedless, and have smooth orange peel that is easy to remove.


In North America the name Tangerine is commonly used for a number of late varieties with deep colour and thin, fairly tight rinds, such as Honey Tangerine. In Europe the term is used more loosely to suit marketing requirements of supermarkets, though it is the lesser known Clementines and hybrid varieties that are so named.

Other Names:

There are many other names given to mandarin types, such as Sweetclem, Clemgold, Clemcott, and so on. These are usually either brand names applied by retailers to help broaden their ranges, or registered names used by breeders and growers to separate a particular variety from the crowd, which can be difficult given the subtle difference between varieties.


Satsuma: Okitsu, Owari, Iwasaki, Mihowase, Clausalina

Mediterranean: Saltenita


Common Mandarin: Clementines, Clemenrubi, Clemenules, Oronules, Clemenvilla, Ellandale, Fina, Mioro, Marisol

Tangors & Tangelos: Nadorcott, Tangold, Tango, Or, Orri, Mor, Minneola, Murcott, Ortanique

Small-fruited Mandarins: Nanfengmiji


Original: 29th January, 2015

Updated: 19th December, 2017

©Good Fruit Guide 2017. Information and data published on must not be reproduced or copied without permission of the editor. Recommendations on fruit varieties and types with the very best taste are personal to the editor of Good Fruit Guide, and do not attempt to be exhaustive or supported by verifiable consumer research.  The highlighting of fruit with the very best taste in the opinion of the editor is not intended as a judgement on the taste of varieties and types of fruit not mentioned.



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