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‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)

‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)

(Citrus reticulata x sinensis)

 

Royal mandarin tree overview:

  • Refreshing fruit flavor from a tree that likes the heat.

 

Royal mandarin fruit appearance:

  • The Royal mandarin fruit is medium in size compared to other oranges.
  • The skin is deeply pebbled and will feel somewhat spongy when ripe.
  • The skin color is variable and can be yellow-orange to orange-red.
hanging ripe fruit of the ‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)

Hanging ripe fruit of the ‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)

Royal mandarin taste:

  • The fruits name “tangor” is a combination of the tang” of tangerine and the “or” of “orange”.
  • As a result, the fruit is expected to be tarter than your typical orange.  The Royal mandarin is also said to have a more rich and complex flavor when compared to other oranges.  Some people even report that this fruit has a spicy-sweet flavor.  However, to me it tastes like an orange dipped in the juice of a Meyer lemon.
  • This fruit needs lots of heat to reach its prime.  Consequently, many authors state that it is only suited for growing in Florida or the warmest inland valleys of California.   That being said, in my experience the fruit can taste the way it should when grown in other areas of Southern California.  If your living in a more mild climate, the trick is to let the fruit hang on the tree longer.  So instead of harvesting in February to March (the way they do in Florida), you harvest in May to June.   This gives the fruit more days of heat.  Besides, all Citrus lose acid and gain sugar as they mature.
  • The fruit is very juicy but rather seedy.   The skin is loose and easy to peel, which seems unnecessary because I think this fruit might be best suited to juicing.
Juicy but seedy ‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)

Juicy but seedy ‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)

Royal mandarin fruit season: 

  • In Florida and the hottest inland valleys of California, the harvest season is February to mid March.
  • However, in other (less hot) parts of Southern California, the best time for harvest seems to be around May to June.
Ripening ‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)

Ripening ‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)

Landscaping use: 

  • The Royal mandarin tree has a bushy type of growth pattern and dense foliage.
  • The tree has a few very small thorns.
  • This citrus has fairly typical looking orange tree flowers.
‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)  flower

‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin) flower.

Soil:

  • I have read that some people just plant citrus trees in the ground without much fanfare.  However, I have not had any previous luck with this Laissez-faire method of fruit tree planting.  Perhaps this is because the soil in Southern California is usually rather poor.
  • Therefore, I do what has worked for all of my other trees;  I aggressively augmented the soil with grow mulch/compost, and inoculate the roots with Micorriza.  Click here for the planting method that I have used with great success.
Royal

‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)

Water:

  • I water most of my citrus trees around 2-3x a week in the summer.
  • For established trees, I cut way back on the watering in the winter… Just because that is usually our wet season and you can get away with it.
  • Covering the ground around the base of the tree with a nice layer of wood mulch will help to retain moisture in the summer.

 

Sun:

  • Full

 

Fertilization: 

  • I try to fertilize all of my citrus trees from late winter to mid-summer.
    • The rational is that I don’t want to encourage young leaf growth in the winter because of the risk of cold damage to the susceptible young leaves.
    • On the other end, I don’t want to encourage excessive young growth during leaf miner season which starts around July.
    • I generally use a balanced fertilizer such as 15-15-15 and apply it in 4 doses during the fertilization season described above.
  • I also give a single dose of micronutrients in the spring.  I have been trying different brands, but this organic one with a money back guarantee sold on amazon looks really great.
  • Lately I have also been adding in all kinds of other goodies such as mushroom compost, grow mulch, worm castings, etc. I am getting the sense that citrus like the variety.  See my earlier post for how to get free compost.

 

Temp:  

  • This tree does not like chilly weather and it is one of the most cold sensitive citrus trees.   Therefore, plant this tree in the warmest part of your yard. Avoid low basin like areas of your yard where cool air will collect in the winter. Also avoid the North part of your property that might get shaded by the long winter shadows of your house.
  • Cold temps may burn leaves and cause leaves and fruit to drop.
  • Cold temps may also cause the bark to die and peal away.  This happened to me (see pic below).  However, somehow the tree has recovered, although, the bark may never grow back fully.
Peeling bark. Citrus cold damage

Peeling bark, the result of cold damage

Pests: 

  • The major pest for all of my citrus is the Citrus Leafminer. Click here to see my post about the diagnosis and treatment of Citrus Leafminer. 
  • However, I recently also discovered a mealybug infestation on a few branches of my Tahitian Pummelo.  I quickly cured the tree of these sap suckers with a thorough blast of water, followed by horticulture oil spray and then Tanglefoot around the trunk (see Tanglefoot discussion below).
  • Citrus are also prone to attack from aphids, scale etc.
  • One of the most important things to do is to keep the ants out of the tree which often bring aphids, scale and mealybugs with them.  A great way to do this is to use Tanglefoot.  However, don’t apply Tanglefoot directly to the bark because the thin bark of citrus can be easily damaged this way.  Create a skirt of masking tape around the trunk of the tree (with the sticky-side out) or buy the Tanglefoot guard paper wrap.  Then add the Tanglefoot on that skirt/paper.
  • Citrus Greening AKA Huanglongbing (HLB) is currently reeking havoc in Florida.  All other citrus growing states are on high alert and most are under quarantine.  The disease is incurable and will usually kill a tree within several years.  The disease is spread by the insect known as the Asian Citrus Psyllid. Leaves with HLB disease have a blotchy yellow pattern that is not the same on both sides of the leaf.  If you suspect this disease, it should be reported to the California Department of Food and Agriculture hotline at 1-800-491-1899.

 

Fruit Use:

  • If you want a unique and refreshing orange juice, the Royal mandarin the way to go.
  • Despite the seeds, many people love to eat this fruit out of hand.
  • The Royal mandarin, but they are also used in salads, jellies & fish dishes.
  • Chefs have said that the rind is particularly flavorful, but I personally don’t have experience with using this part of the fruit.
Easy to Peel ‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)

Easy to Peel ‘Temple Tangor’ (Royal Mandarin)

Misc:

  • The tree is thought to have originated in Jamaica where it was ‘discovered’ in 1896.
  • Apparently the tree (or at least one of its aliases) is named after W. C. Temple, the former manager of the Florida Citrus Exchange
  • The fruit is a hybrid of the mandarin orange (tangerine, Citrus reticulata) and the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis).
  • Royal mandarin AKA: Royal Temple mandarin, Temple orange, Tangor orange, Temple Tangor, Royal Mandarin Tangor, Jamaica orange.

 

About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.

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