What we grow - Biodiversity



Clementine (Citrus × clementina) is a citrus fruit belonging to the group of hybrids between tangerine and wild orange. For this reason it is also commonly known by the name of mandarancio. According to some sources, the origin of clementine would be accidental, and the first fruit was discovered by Fra Clément Rodier (from whom it would also take its name and who, according to some sources, would be the one who introduced it to the Mediterranean) in the garden of his orphanage in Misserghin (Algeria). The hypothesis is also emerging that the hybrid is much older and comes from China or Japan. After the first hybridizations at the beginning of the twentieth century, it was soon evident that it was a new species of Citrus, given that the characteristics remained unchanged over time and the systematic reproduction of the citrus fruit did not give any problems. After decades of experimental cultivation, the fruits retained the qualities of the first hybrids, and were increasingly in demand by the consumer. Since 1940, clementine has been one of the citrus fruits permanently present on the Italian market and, in recent decades, the best-selling fruit after oranges.


The clementine tree is very similar to that of the tangerine, from which it differs slightly in the leaves which are larger and wider and do not have the characteristic aroma of tangerine. It blooms and fructify slowly and irregularly, as it is very susceptible to temperature changes. There is only one annual harvest between November and January. The fruit resembles tangerine: the main differences are to be found in the color of the pulp, a more decisive orange color. It is also never flattened like tangerines, but always well rounded. Like tangerine, it peels and splits into cloves with ease. The taste is more like orange, with a perfect balance between sour and sweet. Also, unlike tangerine, clementine cloves are almost completely seedless. The largest plantations are found in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, Italy (Southern Calabria and Sicily). In the USA, clementines have been cultivated since they first appeared on the market, but they only really established themselves after 1977, when many Florida orange groves were destroyed by an exceptionally harsh winter.


Clementine is mainly consumed as a fresh fruit because it has all the typical properties of citrus fruits. It is a food rich in fiber to support intestinal motility. Furthermore, it is a mine of vitamins, in particular those of group C (Ideal for strengthening the immune defenses during the winter time) and mineral salts, such as iron, magnesium and potassium. It is often preferred to orange as it never exceeds in acidity and peels more easily. In the kitchen, it is normally used on its own but can be used for juices, jams, sorbets or syrups. In the production of cosmetics, clementine is used in the preparation of toning lotions and masks for the skin.


Cultivations are characterized by particularly mild winters, with loose and deep soils where citrus fruits vegetate in an exceptional way. Cultivation can also be found in hilly areas with much harsher winters, the important thing is the sunny exposure and the absence of cold winds and prolonged frosts, in areas suited to mild climates. Irrigation is important in too dry seasons, when natural rainfall cannot maintain sufficient moisture in the soil, it must always be moderate, so as not to create water stagnation and avoid rotting. The most critical times are fruit set and fruit growth, phases that embrace the long spring and summer season. The clementines benefit from an annual fertilization, to be carried out at the end of winter, once the harvest is complete. The tree can be fertilized by amending the soil around the trunk of mature manure or milled lupins.