The Citrus Jewel of the Orient
to Japan since the sixteenth century, tangerines belong to the
mandarin orange family that has flourished in the Orient for centuries.
The tangerine is named for Tangiers, the North African port from
which this citrus was originally shipped to Florida. It is most
abundantly grown in Japan, southern China, India, and the East
Indies, and is esteemed for home consumption in Australia and
the United States. It gravitated to the western world by small
steps taken by individuals interested in certain cultivars. Therefore,
the history of its spread can be roughly traced in the chronology
of separate introductions. Two varieties from Canton were taken
to England in 1805. They were adopted into cultivation in the
Mediterranean area and, by 1850, were well established in Italy.
Sometime between 1840 and 1850, the 'Willow-leaf' or 'China Mandarin'
was imported by the Italian Consul and planted at the Consulate
in New Orleans. It was carried from there to Florida and later
reached California. The 'Owari' Satsuma arrived from Japan, first
in 1876 and next in 1878, and nearly a million budded trees from
1908 to 1911 for planting in the Gulf States. Six fruits of the
'King' mandarin were sent from Saigon in 1882 to a Dr. Magee at
Riverside, California. The latter sent 2 seedlings to Winter Park,
Florida. Seeds of the 'Oneco' mandarin were obtained from India
by the nurseryman, P.W. Reasoner, in 1888. In 1892 or 1893, 2
fruits of 'Ponkan' were sent from China to J.C. Barrington of
McMeskin, Florida, and seedlings from there were distributed and
led to commercial propagation.