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The Declensions of Citrus Fruits

Updated on May 15, 2012
Marigolds and Tangerines, painted in oils in 1924 by Felix Vallotton.
Marigolds and Tangerines, painted in oils in 1924 by Felix Vallotton. | Source

Variety is Fun!

HubPages Question: What's the difference between a Tangerine, a satsuma, a manderine or a clemantine? asked by MP50.

While I don't really believe that fruits can be declined in the way we decline nouns and pronouns, the lineage of citrus fruits and their hybrids, with all their similarities and differences, have always fascinated me. My imagination draws a parallel somehow.

My early interest only increased with time and the discovery of additional citrus fruits form foreign countries and of countries like Thailand that produce at least one different type of fruit every month. The types of citrus often resemble family lines of sorts and that's why I think this question can be fun. Perhaps someone that grows each type will write in!

So, citrus is fun. This all began when my father and his siblings on the farm long ago received an orange, an apple, walnuts, and other food items in their Christmas stockings. As a professional decades later, he and his colleagues gave large boxes and crates of citrus fruits to other business contacts and friends every Christmas. I think I was only 5 when I first saw a kumquat and wondered how an orange became so tiny - like "Bonsai fruit."

First Group

MINNEOLA, a type of TANGELO | Source

Second Group

SATSUMA | Source

What are they?

Botanical information comes from The Ohio State University Extension Service.

Tangerine - A Chinese symbol of good fortune. This is not a cross between other citrus varieties. It is Citrus tangerina (a beautiful name), smaller than an orange, with darker orange-colored, rougher skin that comes off easily. The oils in peel of this fruit strongly burn my lips, so I always remove the entire peel before eating, rather than to cut the whole fruit into slices. I find the flavor to be a bit stronger than that of an orange, but many people feel that it is milder.

Tangelo - One of my favorite among citrus, this is a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit or pomelo (see Grapefruit section below) and is very refreshing to eat, with a lightly flavored juice and a sweetness. A Minneola is a tangelo using a specific variety of grapefruit and tangerine. The tangelo has a rougher appearance than an orange, plus a knob on the top. Notice the shape of the tangelo and the prominence of the knob n the photo to the right.

Manderine - Also a Chinese symbol of good fortune and good health. Some sources say that this is only a mandarin orange or Citrus reticulata . I like those very much and put them over vanilla ice cream - as good as a Creamsicle®. However, with the -erine ending suggests that this fruit could also be a hybrid of the tangerine and the orange, but it is not. That is called the Orantique -- Those I've seen are of a size intermediate to its parents and a slightly different flavor - it could become quite a delicacy.

Clementine - This fruit is a (usually) seedless variety of mandarin orange or Citrus reticulata . You could call it a sibling. I saw clementines a lot in those boxes of gift fruit with the kumquats every Christmas and was so happy that had no seeds. There are a number of arguments in existence about it's origin, but the consensus points to China long ago.

Satsuma - It looks like a large kumquat to me and we might call it a cousin to the mandarin orange. This is Citrus unshiu , a Japanese product from Satsuma Province that is a result of mutation. Sometimes a mutation reveals an unwanted product, item, or birth defect; but this is a good mutation. The fruit is also called honey orange or seedless mandarin . It is a little odd in that it has a loose skin that includes scattered oil glands.

All this IS a little like declensions:

  • Grapefruit, Tangerine, Tangelo - parents and child
  • Manderine, Clementine, Satsuma - siblings and cousin

Notice in the photos to the right that the TANGELO of the First Group and the SATSUMA of the Second Group both have somewhat of a knob on top. This is a magick of genetics in some way, isn't it?


POMELO - Pamplemousse?
POMELO - Pamplemousse? | Source


The grapefruit is itself a hybrid, a cross between the pomelo or Citrus maxima and the sweet orange or Citrus sinensis.

I have never seen a pomelo in our local markets in my town, but I will look again, and pictures of the fruit look like an Asian pear inside of which is grapefruit flesh.

The word pomelo apparently gives rise to the word Pamplemousse in French - the name of the protagonist in Michael Bond's (Paddington Bear) Monsieur Pamplemousse Mysteries for adults. I always wondered why some mentions on the Internet called the detective "Grapefruit."

Citrus is not only fun, it's art!

Comments and Definitions of Pamplemousse

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Patti -

      I like citrus, on occasion I even LOVE it. My sister is a kumquat fiend, but I can take 'em, or leave 'em. I'd rather have a pear, lol.

      However, you snagged me with the Pomelo, lol! Mr.NoPants says we have them in Texas, but I haven't seen any, therefore, I'm now compelled to go find one! We have a large Asian market a few neighborhoods over, so I'll go have a look. If I find one, I'll let ya know.

      The thing I DO love about citrus, is the scent! It's bright! (If that makes sense.) It sort of causes the same reaction to my nose, that - Oooooh! Shiny! - does for my eyes.

      Great hub!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Pomelos and avocado - now I'm starving and must find some quickly, cat.

      zzron - After exercising, all I want is fruit and some water. Vegetables later. :)

      jfay2011 - Thanks for posting!

      Maren-Morgan MT - It was fun to do it, too.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles

      I love citrus fruits in all forms, and they grow so well here in So.Calif. as they are well-suited for a Mediterranean climate. I love them in green salad w/ avocado- esp.grapefruit. A glass of sauvignon blanc is the perfect compliment! The Oro-Blanco grapefruit, developed from the thick-skinned pumelo, is one of the sweetest varieties. Thank you for the interesting hub!

    • zzron profile image


      7 years ago from Houston, TX.

      I would have to say that I love fruit more than I do vegetables. Wonderful hub. Great information.

    • jfay2011 profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting hub, had never heard of a few of those fruits.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Fun analysis.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks, jenubouka.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for visiting, WD Curry 111 - You have some very interesting stories to tell and your old house and grounds sound fascinating. I've often wondered about the process and ingredients of vermouth! It is also encouraging to hear about a good marriage.

      HendrikDB - That's one of my favorites, along with tangerine.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very cool info I love the cross breeds!

    • HendrikDB profile image


      7 years ago

      Great stuff! My favorite is grapefruit.

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      7 years ago from Space Coast

      I live in Florida. This reminds me of my old house. It was a grove house in the glory days of the local citrus industry. It was made of thin concrete block from beach sand, and had knotty cypress ceilings and trim. The builder was a German craftsman, who had installed all kinds of clever features. There were two more just like it on the property.

      The property had Navels, Valencias, Sour Orange, Pink Grapefruit, Yellow Grape Fruit, Limes, Kumquats, Lemons, and a kind of Tangerine that was too caustic to do much with. The neighbors shared the bounty equally, and we made juice with an old cast iron press that the German had left in the shed full of antique tools. We even learned to make wine and vermouth from the juice.

      Every year, a sweet couple (old friends of the German) would bring dinner for us all in a huge wicker picnic basket. After dinner, we filled grocery bags with fruit and sent them on their way. They were a prime example of what marriage should look like. The two had become one.

      I write for a fishing magazine. All you need is a fifth grade grammar book, and you are on your way.


    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Cardisa - Thanks very much! Actually, looking through the types of citrus worldwide, I found many I had never seen before. We have a good soda I can sometimes find here that is a tangerine-lime combination.

      TheManWithNoPants - We certainly have situations in our country that need remedy. As for writing, I think a lot of people like yours, so I'll be seeing you around HP for some time, I'm sure.

      Now I'm remembering when I learned to decline Russian nouns etc., so that gives me more material!

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      7 years ago from Space Coast

      Parvus slacus et longus via. A little slack goes a long way.


    • TheManWithNoPants profile image


      7 years ago from Tucson, Az.


      (Doing the old "whew!" over my head motion) Uhhh .. Patty, I forgot to tell you .. Wow, this is hard .. Spell checks catch fire half way through writing a hub with me, and I toss commas around like throwing anchovies on a pizza. Still I bravely hang with the big dogs.

      Seriously though, I like hanging around the experienced writers. You guys amaze me, and I've made some very good friends along the way. I should be paying the Hub Pages for letting me write here. It allows me to sort out those BB's flying around inside my melon, pimp the ridiculously cool political non profit I founded, and meet great folks. Being a good writer won't happen, because it's not on my A list. Saving this country is. Just being honest. I just do what I do and love the support I've received.

      I bumped in here because of an e-mail I got from one of my followers talking about the decline thing, and I didn't have a clue what they were talking about, so I just came to the source. Glad I did because I think I want to hang out with you girl. (In a non sick way):- You'll make me smarter by gum!


    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      7 years ago from Jamaica

      Patty you are my heroine! I was ignorant to the dynamics of citrus fruits before today. I find tangerine milder in taste than orange. I have never seen the pomelo or te satsuma.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Here's a helpful look from -

      "decline" used as a verb - This is the 4th definition out of 9:

      4. Grammar

      a) to inflect (a noun, pronoun, or adjective), as Latin puella, declined puella, puellae, puellae, puellam, puella in the five cases of the singular.

      b) to recite or display all or some subset of the inflected forms of a noun, pronoun, or adjective in a fixed order.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Hello TheManWithNoPants - You're cool AND you have pomelos! I'm still looking for pomelos.

      "declined/declensions" -- It's a play on words about declining Latin nouns, which reminds me of going through the list of species, subspecies, hybrids, and mutations of citrus fruits and their Latin scientific names.

      Thanks for visiting!

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image


      7 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Never thought I'd be discussing fruit here on the Hub Pages, but you got me! I'm usually the slow one at the back of the room when it comes to these things, and this is no different. What is meant by "can't be declined like nouns and pro nouns?" My ignorance doesn't embarras me too badly. I'm used to it, and that's how I learn, so lay it out for me. :/

      I love all fruits and veges and we can get Pomelo in Texas. Haven't looked for it here in Arizona though, so not sure.

      Reading your hub, seeing your Hub score and number of followers, you definitley have this gig wired for sound my friend. (doing my best English bow) :)


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am sure you will find it!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      So many types of citrus exist, that I cannot find the scientific names for all of them on one site! I'll keep looking.

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 

      7 years ago from Winnipeg

      I never knew there were so many different types of oranges. I'll have to read the signs in the stores from now on to see exactly what kind of orange I'm buying and where its from. They all taste great but I have noticed a difference sometimes. I always assumed it was the level of ripeness. Thanks for the info!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      drbj - I'm glad you appreciate the content, and also the humor. You are an excellent writer as well, you know!

      magodis - You have many types of fruit there that I would enjoy seeing as well as eating.

      MP50 - This Hub was fun to write and illustrate. The genetics of the citrus still reminds me of noun declensions and verb conjugations. That makes it more fun.

      Thomas Rydder - I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      EXCELLENT article!! Very very well written, and full of info. Also, very attractive, and splendidly laid out...well done!! :)TR

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Hub.....I can see why you have a score of 100.

      Thank You

      Kind Regards


    • magodis profile image


      7 years ago from Colombo, Sri Lanka

      In Sri Lanka, we have a few varieties of citrus - I don't have English names for those but in Sinhalese "Dodam, peni dodam, ambul dodam, naarang, yama narang, mas naarang, and a few more"

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Patty, your hubs are not only magnificent founts of information but esthetically and tastefully illustrated. But you already know that. Fascinating subject here m'dear. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.


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