The tangerine tree is a tropical, fruit bearing tree. Tangerines originated in Southeastern Asia and are hardy in USDA zones 9 to 12. Commercial growers and hobbyists grow many varieties of tangerines successfully. Some growers use it strictly as an ornamental tree, selecting it for its dark green foliage and small white flowers. In some instances, growers can raise tangerine trees as a container plant indoors or in a greenhouse.
Tangerine trees are dense evergreens with shiny leaves. The leaves of the tangerine tree are broad with small, rounded teeth. Slender lanceolate (lance-shaped) leaves have winged leaf stems. Trees will only produce fruit if they have produced a sufficient number of leaf nodes. Excessive pruning will reduce the number of leaves and the chance that the tree will bear fruit.
Fruit and Flower
The fruit of a tangerine tree is a tangerine. They are oblate, rather than completely spherical. The skin releases when only a minimal amount of force is applied to the fruit. The peel of the ripe fruit is orange-red or a deep orange. The fruit is produced at the ends of the stems, near the outer parts of the tree. Purdue University notes that the “fruit has long been appreciated for its distinctive and sweet flavor and aroma. They are used primarily for eating out-of-hand, as fruit sections, in fresh juice and to a limited extend for processing.” The fruit stops ripening when it is picked from the tree.
The flowers are small, yet fragrant. The flowers are white and most often have five petals. The flowers tend to be both male and female. Bees, butterflies and other insects pollinate the flowers by moving the pollen around the flower. The flowers usually appear in March or April.
Trunk and Stems
The tangerine tree is slender. The tree is smaller than the orange tree. Some tangerine trees grow to reach 25 feet high. Tangerine trees have thorns; however, some varieties, including 'Fallglo' and 'Dancy,' are generally thornless. The tangerine has an upright growing habit with a rounded top. The University of Florida IFAS Extension program says that the wood of the 'Robinson' and 'Murcott' varieties are brittle and their limbs will break under a very heavy crop load.