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Satsuma (fruit): Wikis


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Citrus unshiu
Satsuma trees
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Citrus
Species: C. unshiu
Binomial name
Citrus unshiu
A basket of satsumas
Cross section

The satsuma (citrus unshiu) is a seedless and easy-peeling citrus mutant of Chinese origin[citation needed], but introduced to the West via Japan. In Japan, it is known as mikan or formally unshu mikan (Japanese: 温州蜜柑, unshū mikan). In China, it is known as Wenzhou migan (Chinese: 温州蜜柑pinyin: Wēnzhōu Mìgān). The Japanese name is a result of the local reading of the same characters used in the Chinese, the name meaning "Honey Citrus of Wenzhou" in both languages. It is also often known as "Seedless mandarin" (Chinese: 无核桔pinyin: wúhé jú). The Korean name for the fruit is gyul (Korean: 귤).[citation needed]

Its fruit is sweet and usually seedless, about the size of other mandarin oranges (Citrus reticulata), smaller than an orange. One of the distinguishing features of the satsuma is the distinctive thin, leathery skin dotted with large and prominent oil glands, which is lightly attached around the fruit, enabling it to be peeled very easily in comparison to other citrus fruits. The satsuma also has particularly delicate flesh, which cannot withstand the effects of careless handling. The uniquely loose skin of the satsuma, however, means that any such bruising and damage to the fruit may not be immediately apparent upon the typical cursory visual inspection associated with assessing the quality of other fruits. In this regard, the satsuma is often categorised by citrus growers as a hit-and-miss citrus fruit, the loose skin particular to the fruit precluding the definitive measurement of its quality by sight and feel alone.

The Chinese and Japanese names reference Wenzhou, a city in the Zhejiang Province of China known for its citrus production. However, it has also been grown in Japan since ancient times, and the majority of cultivars grown in China today were cultivated in Japan and reverse-introduced into China in modern times.

Clementines are not the same variety as the unshiu or mikan mandarin.



The satsuma originates from Wenzhou, a city in Zhejiang province in China[citation needed]. Recorded cultivation of the "Wenzhou Migan" date back some 2400 years. It was listed as a tribute item for Imperial consumption in the Tang Dynasty. The best record of the cultivation of this variety in ancient China is from the Jijia Julu (Chinese: 記嘉桔錄; literally "Citrus Records of Jijia"), written by Han Yan, the governor of the region and published in 1178[1]. This book records the various citrus varieties then grown in Wenzhou, cultivation, pest control, storage, and processing of each variety.

The satsuma was introduced to Japan by the Buddhist monk Chie (Japanese: 智慧)[citation needed], who passed through Wenzhou on his way back from Wutai Mountain. This was further developed into new cultivars, with one mutation recorded as early as 1429 [2].

In 1916, a number of Japanese cultivars were introduced to Wenzhou. These, and new cultivars developed from them, now dominate orchards in Wenzhou. The traditional centre of satsuma production in Wenzhou is in the town of Wushan, in the Ouhai District of Wenzhou.

Export to the West

The fruit was brought from Asia to New Spain by Jesuits. Groves started by Jesuits in the 18th century in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana have continued to the present day [3].

The fruit became much more common in the United States starting in the late 19th century. In 1876 during the Meiji period, satsumas were brought to the United States from the Satsuma Province in Kyūshū, Japan by a spouse of a member of the U.S. Embassy. While the species originates from Japan, it does not originate from the Satsuma Province in particular. The towns of Satsuma, Alabama, Satsuma, Florida, Satsuma, Texas and Satsuma, Louisiana were named after this fruit. By 1920 Jackson County in the Florida Panhandle had billed itself as the "Satsuma Capital of the World." However, the commercial industry was wiped out during a very cold period in the late 1930s. It has been planted in colder locations, because of its cold-hardiness and because colder weather will sweeten the fruit. A mature satsuma tree can survive down to –9.5°C (15°F) for a few hours. Of the edible citrus varieties, only the kumquat is more cold-hardy. Satsumas rarely have any thorns, an attribute that also makes them popular. They can be grown from seed, which takes about 8 years until the first fruits are produced, or grafted onto other citrus rootstocks, trifoliate orange being one of the most popular.

See also


External links

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