Mandarin is a type of small citrus tree that is similar to orange but is more resistant to low temperatures. It grows well in the desert, semitropical and subtropical regions. It belongs to the Satsumas mangadins group. The name is also used to describe many hybrids of oranges and mandarins. Mandarin is also used to name the fruits produced by the tree but in some parts of the United States, Argentina and Uruguay the fruits are known as tangerines.
The tree is small and thorny. It produces perennial, glossy, dark green leaves. The tree usually tends to alternate bearings – with a large number of small fruits of low quality and next with a low number of fruits of great quality. The fruits can be both seedless and with seeds. This quality is common for many citrus trees which are able to develop fruits without the need for pollination.
Mandarin fruit is similar to the orange's but it is flattened at the base and significantly smaller. It is easy to peel as the skin is not very thick. The skin is smooth and usually in a red-orange shade. The skin covers bright orange pulp which is sweet and gets sweeter as the fruit gets ripe. The pulp is divided into up to 12 gores. The fruit reaches up to 8 cm in diameter. It is a fruit with quite significant commercial importance. It is usually consumed fresh or used in cooking in salads, combined with seafood, added to pork dishes. The fruit is also used to achieve mandarin liquor but it is not as popular as orange to juice as oranges have better properties.
The fruit is quite easy to digest and is a popular snack. It can be used to treat ulcers, vesicles, fever, cough, and alcohol poisoning. Due to its slightly acidic character, it should not be consumed by people with dry defection or mouth sores.
The largest production of mandarins takes place in China where up to 19 million metric tonnes is produced every year. China is followed by Spain, the second-largest producer. Up to 18 million metric tonnes are produced in Spain annually. Spain is also the global top exporter while the global top importer of the fruit is the United States.