Difference Between Clementine and Mandarin

Key Difference – Clementine vs Mandarin

Mandarin and clementine both belong to the family of oranges, and they are more difficult to distinguish from each other because they look similar to each other; however there is a distinct difference between these two varieties in spite of their many similarities. Nutritionally, all oranges are similar and rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and dietary fiber. Both clementine and mandarin oranges provide trace amounts of iron, magnesium, calcium, folic acid and vitamin E. The key difference between mandarin and clementine are the size and the sterility of the fruit. Clementine is a hybrid variety. It is a seedless orange and small in size compared to mandarin. Mandarin is also rich in vitamin A compared to clementine. The purpose of this article is to highlight the difference between clementine and mandarin.

What is Mandarin?

Difference between clementine and mandarin


A mandarin (Citrus reticulata) orange is somewhat smaller comparative to the standard orange. It is a small citrus tree which is originated in China where over 12 million tons of mandarin is harvested each year. In addition, China is the largest grower and consumer of mandarin in the world. Compared to other oranges, it is easy to remove skin or peel of mandarin, and it can be readily separated into individual sections. It is smaller, less spherical in shape than common oranges and has pebbly skin. It is generally peeled, and consumed in fresh form; the fresh fruit is also used in salads, desserts and main serving dishes. Furthermore, fresh juice and frozen juice concentrate are also prepared using mandarin. Commercially available fresh mandarin fruits contain seeds and the number of seeds in each segment varies greatly.

What is Clementine?

Clementines are a different type of oranges that ripen around Christmas season. In the United States, clementines are typically available in November to January. Commercially grown clementines are always seedless. The clementines are a perfect fruit or snack for young children because it doesn’t have seeds. Similarly to mandarin, they tend to be easy to peel. The peel color of clementine is deep orange in colour and has a smooth, glossy appearance; it can be separated into 7 to 14 segments. They are naturally juicy and sweet, with less acid content than other oranges.

Key Difference - clementine vs mandarin


What is the difference between Clementine and Mandarin?

Clementine and mandarin may have substantially different sensory properties and applications. These differences may include,


Clementine: It was created by a French missionary known as Marie-Clement Rodier in Algeria over 100 years ago.

Mandarin: It was originated in China.

Growing Countries:

Clementine: Clementine is grown in Algeria, Tunisia, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Greece, Italy, Israel, Lebanon, Iran and Turkey.

Mandarin: China is the largest grower and exporter of Mandarin in the world.


Clementine: Clementine is a hybrid between a Mediterranean citrus and a sweet orange.

Mandarin: Mandarin is not a hybrid variety because according to molecular studies, the mandarin is the ancestors of most other hybrid commercial citrus varieties. Thus, mandarins are more important as a parental species.


Clementine: It is a seedless orange.

Mandarin: It contains seeds.

Nature of Skin/Peel:

Clementine: The peel is deep orange in colour with a smooth and glossy appearance.

Mandarin: The  peel has a pebbly-skinned nature and  is not as smooth as Clementine.


Clementine: Shoots need to be grafted.

Mandarin: Seeds or other means (grafting, tissue culture) can be used for propagation.


Clementine: Clementines have a tart, tangy and sweet flavor.

Mandarin: Mandarin oranges are less sweet than Clementine.

Vitamin A content:

Clementine: Clementines have negligible/trace amount of vitamin A.

Mandarin: Mandarins contain significantly more vitamin A than clementines.


Clementine: Spanish clementine and Nadorcott are the two main varieties. The Nadorcott variety is famous for its bright red-orange color, thinner peel. It is less sweet and more tart and bitter than the Clemenules/ Spanish clementine.

Mandarin: Varieties include Unshius, satsumas and tangerines.


Clementine: They are mainly used as a snack/fruits after main meal.

Mandarin: Mandarins are used for fresh juice, frozen juice concentrate, canning and fruit salad preparation purposes. However, the added sugar in canned mandarin products increases the calorie content and decreases the nutritional value of the fruit. In addition to the fruit, the peel is used as a spice for cooking, baking, drinks, or candy as well as Chinese traditional medicine.

Cultural Significance:

Clementine: Clementines have a huge demand during Christmas season and are also known as Christmas oranges. It is sometimes used as a Christmas tradition in Japan, Canada, the United States and Russia.

Mandarin: Mandarin oranges are considered traditional symbols of abundance and good fortune during the two-week celebration mainly during Chinese New Year season.  Therefore, these mandarins are commonly presented as decorations and offered as gifts to friends and relatives.

Alternative Names:

Clementine: It is also known as Moroccan clementine, seedless tangerines, Christmas oranges, or Thanksgiving Orange. It is known as Cantra in India.

Mandarin: It is known as Tango or tangerine.

In conclusion, clementine and mandarin oranges are members of the citrus family and are similar to traditional oranges, but they each have slightly different sensory and physical properties. However, the clementine is not always easy to differentiate from varieties of mandarin oranges.

Hodgson, Richard Willard (1967). Chapter 4: Horticultural Varieties of Citrus. The Citrus Industry (Revised edition) (University of California, Division of Agricultural Sciences). Retrieved February 14, 2009.
Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. 1985. Los Angeles: Institute of Chinese Medicine.
Image Courtesy:
“Mandarin Oranges (Citrus Reticulata)” by Joe Ravi. (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons
“Clementines 2006 tap“ von Trevor Parker – Eigenes Werk. (CC BY-SA 3.0) über Wikimedia Commons