James H. Schutte
CITRUS reticulata 'Murcott'
Plant Common Name
Honey Murcott Tangerine, Tangerine
Easy to peel and eat, tangerines delight children and adults alike. They are the fruits of a small to medium-sized evergreen tree, grown for centuries and highly prized across the world. Native to southeastern Asia and the Philippines, the tree eventually moved along Asian trade routes to the Mediterranean and Europe. Between 1840 and 1850, plants were first brought to the United States via New Orleans and later shipped to Florida and California where many commercial groves exist today. Tangerines are also produced in large numbers in Mexico and shipped worldwide.
Tangerine trees have spreading, open crowns and glossy, elliptical, fragrant leaves with slightly winged stems and minute teeth along the edges. Flowers appear from very late winter to spring and may be single or clustered. In bud they are red or purple-hued and open to reveal white petals. The flowers are fragrant and highly attractive to honeybees.
This cultivar, ‘Murcott’ produces fragrant, medium-sized, round fruit slightly flattened at the ends with red-orange, thin, bumpy skin that may remain yellow-orange in warm years. The flesh is rich orange with a sweet flavor and few to many seeds. The fruit ripens mid-season. The tree is medium-sized with long, willowy branches bearing fruits at their tips. It is productive and alternate bearing, which means a heavy crop one year and a lighter crop the next.
Cold sensitive, but more hardier than other citrus, tangerines prefer locations with warm, dry winters, and cool summers. They require full sun and are tolerant of most soils, even poor soils, with ample drainage. Though moderately drought tolerant once established, they must have regular applications of water for good fruit production. Regular fertilization is also required as they are heavy feeders. Tangerine trees are smaller that other citrus, but still need plenty of space for their spreading crowns to grow. They are grafted on rootstocks that impart tolerances to soils, pests and climate conditions.
Use ‘Murcott’ in a tub or the ground. Where it is not hardy, it will grow and fruit in a conservatory. It attract the North America giant swallowtail butterfly which uses this and other citrus as larval food.