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CITRUS reticulata 'Ponkan'

Image of Citrus reticulata 'Ponkan'

James H. Schutte



Botanical Name

CITRUS reticulata 'Ponkan'

Plant Common Name

Chinese Honey Orange, Ponkan Tangerine, Tangerine

General Description

Easy to peel and eat, tangerines delight children and adults alike. These small to medium-sized evergreen fruit trees have been grown for centuries and are highly prized by cultures across the world. Originating from southeastern Asia and the Philippines, they were eventually moved along Asian trade routes through 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 covered with 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 fragrant blooms that are highly attractive to honeybees, which produce honey.

The cultivar ‘Ponkan’ is one of the most widely grown tangerines in the world. It produces fragrant, large, round fruit sometimes with a short, furrowed neck. The fruit has thick, loose, orange, smooth skin and orange flesh with a mild, sweet flavor and is nearly seedless. The fruit ripens early to mid season and should be harvested when ripe as it does not keep well on the tree. Medium-sized trees are upright, productive and strongly alternate bearing, which means they produce a heavy crop one year and a lighter crop the next.

Ponkin is particularly cold sensitive and prefers 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 to rootstocks, which impart tolerances to soils, pests and climate conditions.

Ponkin tangerine trees are relatively small and through the use of dwarfing rooststocks and selective pruning excellent dwarf citrus tree. They also make good tub or conservatory specimens where not hardy and attract the North America giant swallowtail butterfly which uses this and other citrus as larval food.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    8'-20' / 2.4m - 6.1m

  • Width

    8'-20' / 2.4m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    White, Red, Purple

  • Fruit Color


  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Gray Green, Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture


  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Screening / Wind Break, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Attracts

    Birds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing