Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Satsuma by any other name:

Satsuma (Citrus reticulata), also known as Mandarin or Tangerine. All three words are interchangeable. There are several (many) cultivars of Satsuma, including Owari, Kimbough, and Early St. Anne just to name a few. There are taste differences, but the major difference is time of ripening. As a class, most Satsumas ripen before Thanksgiving. Believe it or not, some of the best quality eating is before the peel even turns orange. Of course they can be eaten when they turn, but if you start to see the least little tint of color, give it a try. If you don't like the flavor, wait a couple of days and try again. This works well if you have lots of fruit, if you don't, wait until they give you color. As your tree gets bigger, and you have more fruit, you will develop an eye for when they are perfect. Fruit do not hold well on the tree, they become large and puffy very quickly once reaching maturity.
One of the big selling points is they peel very easy, also being known as "kid glove" and "zipperskinned". This makes them great for kids.
Satsuma is considered the most cold hardy of commercial citrus, 18 degrees is pretty much it's lowest limit for short periods of time. Get down to 15 degrees and you can expect some pretty significant damage.
As for suggestions on the best variety, it will all be a matter of taste. I have and grow a bunch of different kinds. Owari probably being my favorite. It is very sweet. If you like a little bit more on the sour side, Keraji Mandarin is very good. There are many places online to find satsumas, with a little perseverance you can locate some of the harder to find cultivars.
Just to give you some food for thought, Juanita Tangerine came to be as a chance seedling from a grocery store tangerine. It was planted by a Juanita Barrineau of Barrineau, South Carolina. This tree actually survived 0 degrees in 1985. I mention this to encourage you to try planting any seeds you get in the fruit you are eating. Who knows, you might end up having the next great cultivar!
Happy Growing!


  1. I'm an edible gardener new to coastal South Carolina, and I found your post by searching for "satsuma tangerine carolina". I was hoping to be able to grow at least one variety of citrus in my yard, and I think that it's fantastic that you're growing 51 varieties! Neat stuff. :)

  2. Where can I buy Juanita Tangerine trees?

  3. Hey Beachbum. I am not sure where you live, but you can check some of the local garden centers in your area.
    I looked online at some of the places that usually have them, everybody seems to be out. If I stumble across any, I will let you know.

  4. chipmunkhole1@yahoo.comApril 5, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    I live in Goldsboro NC, and I grow ponderosa lemons, ambersweet orange, myer lemons, and 2 tangerine trees. I grew the tangerine trees from seed and the rest where grafted. I keep all the trees covered with plastic from dec 15 to about first week of feb each year. I have great fruit each year off of each tree. had my trees for about 11 years now. PS: christmas lights work good for heat at night and i turn them off at day even if its really cold out. the sun heats the inside of the clear plastic.

    1. Hello, seen your post and was curious if I was doing the right stuff. I have a Myer Lemon Tree that I just bought a small green house for. Was just curious if it was worth the money. I like the Christmas Lights idea and was thinking of wrapping the trunk with cardboard and covering the base with a blanket. Sound good?

    2. Hello Drew,
      There are a couple of things that need to be taken into consideration.
      Where do you live?
      How much did you pay for the greenhouse (this is just for thought, you don't need to really tell me) compared to how much you value the tree and the fruit you will get?
      Can you put other things in the greenhouse too?

    3. Hello Darren, I live in Huntersville, NC (20 miles north of Charlotte), the greenhouse was only $60, the lemon tree is the only thing inside it, I am not going to put anything else. It is a Myer Lemon Tree, I planted it in the yard this past spring as I cant keep it in the house, so I am looking at making sure it survives the winter outdoors. I was thinking of running an extension cord with the Christmas light idea to help it stay warm, I also have some movers blankets that I planned on wrapping around the base. Do you think I should be okay with those ideas?

    4. Hey Drew, okay that helps a lot!
      You can go with the lights, just make sure they actually put out heat and isn't the LED kind.
      A small electric heater would work, or a spotlight.
      You probably will not need the blankets.
      Just watch the temperature inside and as long as it stays above 30, you will be good.