Question about Satsuma tangerine tree

marti_(9b So. Ca.)February 22, 2006


I am thinking about planting a satsuma tangerine tree. Is this the only seedless tangerine? My sister planted two satsuma trees and one was really sweet and delicious and the other was not nearly as good. I think maybe one was not labeled correctly. What really is the best variety of tangerine? I really want a seedless. Does both standard and dwarf trees produce the same quality of fruit? I have room for a standard tree so I was thinking maybe of planting a standard, but my sisters tree is a dwarf, which had the wonderful tasting fruit. Thanks for any help.


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The only satsuma that I have tried was definitely not as flavorful as the tangerine (unknown variety) we have that has seeds. It was sweet, just not as flavorful, not as "tangerine-ish".

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 4:17PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Mandarin would be the correct technical term instead of tangerine.

Most mandarins, even the "seedless" types will have seeds when cross pollinated. you need to isolate these mandarins from other pollen donors, and so if you have other citruses around, for sure you will have seeds on some of them. but there is an exception, and it happens to be best tasting (of course subjective, and depends where and how you grow it). The one consistently rated to be the best seedless mandarin is the Seedless Kishu. It is a mutant form of Kishu where for one reason or another, seeds will not form even when cross pollinated.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 5:29PM
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bfreeman_sunset20(Ca 9b vta co)

There are many varieties of Satsuma mandarin, though in California Owari is the main available one. Maybe it was a different and not as tasty strain of Satsuma. I would also recommend for seedless or very rare seeds : Gold Nugget, Pixie(somewhat bland and growers say at its best only in Ojai Valley), or the new Tahoe Yosemite and Shasta Gold though I havent tried them myself.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tangerine varieties

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 7:18PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Gold nugget is definitely one of the best that I have tasted especially when grown in So Cal. But it has seeds.

So far Yosemite Gold and Shasta Gold have disappointing taste in my yard, but it was their first year of fruits. Hope it will improve with tree maturity and time. Both have seeds. Most citruses planted here in the north Ca are never as sweet as the ones in the south Ca unless you have a greenhouse or special environment for them. for those cultivars that tend to ripen in late summer to Fall usually taste very sweet here. But most citruses ripen around the winter time so not as good as those in the south.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 7:50PM
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bfreeman_sunset20(Ca 9b vta co)

I am surprised to hear these varieties have seeds for you. They are always advertised as seedless. Is it just a few seeds? Maybe its because you have almost every cultivar known to man for pollination.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 4:43AM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Yes bfreeman! Having a 30-in-1 citrus tree, and with a super pollen donor at that, the temple tangor! I have a collection of mandarins on one tree, a collection of valencias on another tree, a collection of pigmented oranges on another tree, a collection of navels, a collection of lemons, a collection of small citrus fruit tree (my frankenQuat tree). I have citrus flowers all year round even in the colder Northern California. I have year round fruits also, and really have plenty of seeds. My valencias are seedless though, mostly because they are parthenocarpic. My collection of pummelos and grapefruits and their hybrids are in my 30-in-1 citrus tree, protected from the cold and frost by the colder mandarins grafted on top canopy.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 12:52PM
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kerrican2001(z9b CA)

Doesn't most of the commercial citrus in the stores nowadays come from the San Joaquin valley east of Fresno? I was under the impression that a lot of the SoCal orange groves have been squeezed out by development and that central CA was now the hotbed of citrus production...

For what it's worth, I've noticed no perceptible difference at all in sweetness between our local citruses (Walnut Creek area) vs. store brands. The biggest difference is that we do tend to have thick rinds around here, but I'd say the oranges picked right off the tree and allowed to ripen as long as possible in the home garden are actually somewhat sweeter and much, much juicier than the bland stuff in the stores. For me, the quality is much better when homegrown than bought, but again, the rinds are thicker in NorCal.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 9:24PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Kerrican, what specific cultivars are you talking about? I would love to test them by waiting as long on the tree to really taste out if they are that sweet as you claim. I have gone to my friends houses in some parts of SoCal where they have hot breezes every afternoon till 10:00 pm, their ordinary valencias tasted "sweeter" than honey at the time I tasted them. Nothing from Florida nor Texas compared with their citruses, except for the lemons.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 10:35PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Kerrican, now there are two of us saying the same pattern. Here's what Al said in another thread:

"* Posted by: calistoga USDA 9 Ca 15 (My Page) on Fri, Feb 24, 06 at 9:21

My folks experimented with citrus here. None of the oranges were sweet. The grapefruit, Marsh white, is not sweet enough to eat. The lemons are OK. Owari satsumas are good and also take the frost. The freeze of Dec. 1990 took the oranges to the ground about half the grapefruit and all the lemons. The Satsuma is OK. We replanted the lemons, dug out the orange roots, also the avocado. The grapefruit remains but will be removed as it just takes up space and drops sour fruit on the ground. Good luck with your planting. Al"

I am experimenting with more than 50 cultivars of citruses and so far, none of them were really as sweet as those from So Cal, some of them like my Satsumas can be as sweet as those from CostCo, but you know the flavor of beautiful looking fruits from CostCo. None of my citruses can match the quality of those bought from Farmer's market (they source their citruses from central and south Ca). Most of my citruses are still young, but those that are nearing maturity (taste improves a lot with citruses), can match the taste from the stores. I also have a lot of promising citrus cultivars that you will never find from the market nor buy these from the nurseries and already on their first year of fruits are better than the commonly available cultivars from the market. These cultivars are available mostly as budwoods from UC Riverside where I got majority of my citruses and have grafted them.

I may already have the specific cultivar of citrus that you have, perhaps you have a sport mutation that is sweet for Northern California. I can do a systematic comparison if you can just tell me the exact cultivar and see if I can achieve the results you got. It is worth trying for me.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 9:49AM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Another specific reason could be that your citrus tree may be planted in a microclimate that receives reradiated heat (wall, street pavement, fence, patio) during the night, or on the relatively higher elevation where the cool denser air drains away from it, leaving it warmer during cool nights.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 9:52AM
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erela(z9 SCal)

I planted a "Pixie" last year and have gotten quite a bit of fruit especially for its second year. I really like the taste of the fruit - sweet, not bland at all. In fact, this is the best tangerine I've tasted. I have many other citrus that are pollenating it yet I haven't found one seed. The fruit is also very easy to peel once you get it started. And the skin doesn't peel away when you take it off the tree like many other tangerines. I'm really happy with this tangerine and recommend it highly.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 1:58PM
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marti_(9b So. Ca.)

I want to thank all of you for the information. I have several choices now. The satsuma was a first choice because I know it can take some frost. The Pixie and gold nugget sound good too. I will have to see what I can find in the nursery. So many times I can't find varieties that I am looking for. I have found a dwarf and a standard Satsuma but it doesn't say Owari on the tag. Does this mean that it maybe a different variety? Is there a good nursery that sells alot of different varieties in So.CA.? I have never seen a Kishu mandarine anywhere. Joereal, where have you found so many different varieties?
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 7:07PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Marti, we bought budwoods as a group order by a bunch of people here in N.Ca. They are offered by UCR through their budwood program by CCPP. You can google for "CCPP budwood" and it will lead you there. Most of my varieties were from UCR and have grafted them to my existing trees. Sometimes, I don't trust the cultivar labels from the stores, so I go to the certified places. Each budwood costs $0.75 if you have satisfied minimum order. The parent plants are in the foundation block at Lindcove. You should be closer there to the facilities.

Currently they have suspended the program after they found a couple of trees with tristeza virus. It goes to show they are really doing their job and will only distribute trees that are disease free. they hope to resume budwood cuttings in June.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 11:30PM
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tracm(9 CA)

I just had to chime in that last year I bought a dwarf satsuma tree and handsdown it had the sweetest, juiciest tangerines ever. Maybe I just haven't tasted good quality fruit, but it was wonderful. ;) Tracy

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 9:16PM
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Hi Tracy,

Where did you buy the tree? How old/how big was it when you purchased it? How many fruits did it produce for you?

Thanks for the info.



    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 11:27PM
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tracm(9 CA)

Angelique, I bought it at my favorite nursery Plant Depot in San Juan Capistrano. They have a huge selection of all kinds of citrus trees both regular and dwarf, and semi-dwarf. I bought it about a year ago, it was about 2 1/2 ft high and it gave me only a couple of tangerines, but they were very sweet and tasty. I can't wait for this years crop. Hope that helps.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 10:12AM
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Hi Tracy,

Thank you for the information.



    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 12:35PM
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bfreeman_sunset20(Ca 9b vta co)

If it just says Satsuma in California its most likely an Owari.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 12:10AM
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The CCPP web site has excellent information on citrus varities. For Southern California costal areas, Pixie, Gold Nugget, and Satsuma are good choices. Pixie seems to be the number one choice of more people, but everyone has their own preference.

Here is a link that might be useful: clonal citrus production program

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 8:02PM
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You chaps are probably well ahead of my tree,tree may be a slight exagerating, as it stands 4 feet tall in its stocking feet. However, since its been grown from a segment by my kids, it has become part of the family.
It has healthy leaves on a long tall stem which is now starting to branch into 5-6 shoots a foot from the top. It also has another shoot at ground level which looks like the top 18 inches of the main "tree".
Its holiday outside has just come to a close, as an English garden in october, even aided by global warming, is not the place for a tropical fruit tree to loiter.
Even the smallest constructive tip would be gratefully received.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 5:44PM
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We keep Christmas lights (the old fashioned bigger bulbs are better)on the citrus trees during the winter. The heat helps them survive. Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 10:37AM
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I planted a dwarf Satsuma mandarin three years ago. The first year or two I found the fruit disappointing, but I noticed that the flavor is much improved this year. It is not as good as the wonderful unknown tree we had before, but it is well worth eating.

The tree before had to be removed because it was in the path of a retaining wall that was falling down around it. That mandarin had some seeds, but was both intensely sweet and richly flavorful. The tree would have been planted somewhere between 35 and 60 years ago. I wish I knew what it was. I would replace it with the same variety.

While I do fertilize, I grow all my citrus without supplemental water once established. That is how the trees I found on the property were grown, so I know they can do well and bear good fruit under these circumstances. Possibly they would bear more fruit with watering -- there must be a reason commercial growers go to the expense and trouble -- but we can't eat all we grow as it is now.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 1:22PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

My Owari satsuma is the only citrus not killed or severly damaged by the deep freeze of December 1990. It bears well every year but could have a better flavor. Al

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 9:57AM
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I'm in need of a Louisiana Satsuma tree. Where can I buy one?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 9:17AM
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atreehugger(Sunset 21)

I took out my Satsuma beacause of alternate bearing fruits which I heard was common. Put in Gold Nugget, and the taste is much sweeter. But it does get ripe much later - Feb & March

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 12:41AM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Fruity Meg, perhaps you can try contacting Stan McKenzie of Tell him that Joe Real referred you and see if he can point you to the right supplier. They might carry some LA satsuma in their nurseries.

In my yard, from this season's crop, Miho Wase turned out a lot better Satsuma than Owari but it did it a little bit overboard, definitely bigger, sweeter, completely seedless, a month earlier harvest, but somehow lacking some acidity that I am familiar with the Owari. My kids love the Miho Wase. Overall, it is still a lot better than Owari and as cold hardy.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 12:30PM
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Santa Barbara:

I have both a Satsuma and a Clementine.

The Clementine has been producing wonderful fruit for five years or so. The Satsuma is newer, this is it's first year for really tasty fruit. Last year and the year before it produce a handful of disappointing fruit, not very tasty. This year it obviously had a change of heart, because there were lots and they were lovely.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 12:36AM
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I have been looking at Satsumas and other citrus to grow in a container in my area of Oregon's Willamette Valley - we are on the "warm side" and I can offer protection and even greenhouse for at least a few plants, but am hoping for hardy to high teens. But I want fruit no one else does - as a diabetic, oranges are typically too sweet for me to eat - I make marmalade and juice from sour oranges - I love Sevilles but they are not cold hardy. It's not easy to find out which mandarins, etc., orange-tasting fruit are highly flavored but at least mildly tart. Flavorful is important - insipid won't do. Tart, sweet-tart, tangy and flavorful is what I am looking for. I use xylitol for a sweetener and it makes fantastic juice and marmalade.

On another line, I am interested in budding different varieties onto a rootstock. I have seeds for Flying Dragon - should I start one and bud onto that? Does the rootstock affect the cold-hardiness? How does that work? I have not done bud grafting before (tho am tempted to do a little with my micro pinot noir vineyard). Joe Real, maybe you can give me a pointer on this. Your multi-plants sound awesome.

Thanks - love to read the citrus talk!


    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 7:19PM
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There is a great set of citrus tree recommendations on the UC Riverside website, called "If I could only plant a few". (See link below.) The author gives his top recommendations for each type of citrus tree. For tangerines/mandarins, he recommends Gold Nugget (which is seedless) if you want a late-spring to mid-summer harvest, and Seedless Kishu if you want a late winter harvest. There is detailed information about each variety on the UCR website.

I chose the Gold Nugget because I already get plenty of citrus in winter/spring from my navel orange tree, and because I figure a spring/summer ripening schedule will yield sweeter fruit in northern California where the winters are less than ideal for citrus fruit ripening.

Here is a link that might be useful: UC Riverside: If I could only plant one of each citrus tree

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 12:51AM
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After a leisurely search I found Kishu at Moneta Nursery in Gardena. I found Owari at several nurseries throughout So Cal, and even HD.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 12:24PM
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I have some Satsuma tangerine trees. They have a black something on all the leaves. It seem to be some sort of fungus, or mold. It's spreading from tree to tree.
How can I get rid of this? Its on the fruit also. They are turning colors but seem to be roting on the tree.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 6:18PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Several pests can cause these symptoms. The most common are scale and aphids. These can be controlled with Neem or Ultrafine Horticultural oil sprays once a week for three weeks. It would help if your user name gave some indication of your location or zone in which you garden. Al

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 9:42AM
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Hi i am new to planting can anyone tell me how to plant a satsuma tree. Do i need to plant two for the pollination?
Can i just plant one. Thanks

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 3:59PM
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Most satsumas are self-fruitful. Is your's an Owari?

Here's a .pdf file on Q&A of citrus management by Mauk and Shea that I have found very useful. Citrus do much better if you have an idea of how and when to fertilize, water and deal with pests.

Here is a link that might be useful: Citrus Q&A

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 8:00PM
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I just bought a satsuma mandarin owari, when i got home tried one of the mandarins and it was dry inside a no flavor at all,the person at the nursery said that it is almost end of the season and advise that maybe the fruit that was in the tree was not the best. should I planted and believe that or take it back? please help!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 1:04PM
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    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 5:24PM
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