Clementines appear in our markets in the greyest of seasons like bright neon-orange packets of sunshine.

They stand proud on the tables at Christmas gatherings in Italy, which coincides with their prime picking months when they are at their juicy best.

The clementine comes from the group of mandarins, along with tangelos, tangerines and satsumas, just to name a few, which are all closely related to each other on the citrus family tree.


The clementine (citrus x clementina) is a descendent of the mandarin which, along with the pomelo and citron, is known as one of the most ancient citrus varieties.

There are two main theories as to the discovery of the clementine: one is that it was discovered in 1902 by Clément Rodier, a French missionary in the garden of an orphanage in Algeria, whilst the second, more recent theory, is that it is of oriental origins, noting its remarkable similarity to the Canton mandarin that has been widely grown in China for thousands of years.


Often it could be difficult to distinguish a clementine from a mandarin or a tangerine.

Here are some distinguishing properties of the clementine that will guide you through your citrus-binge over the festive season.

  • Clementines, in Italy, are often presented along with their branches and leaves intact, as opposed to other varieties.
  • The peel is smooth and glossy, and tightly bound to the juicy flesh inside, but always easy to peel!
  • Clementines tend to be smaller than mandarins and are practically seedless.
Origins and characteristics of the clementine citrus fruit