Fresh tangerines. Ripe and tasty mandarins. Clementines. Background tangerines.

Oranges grow on trees that reach heights of up to 50 feet. Oranges have become so ubiquitous that these round, thick-skinned, juicy, orange-colored fruits almost need no description. They have been cultivated for thousands of years and are believed to have originated in indochina. Oranges can be peeled and eaten by hand, sliced in half and juiced or cut into quarters and eaten up to their peels. The popularity of seedless varieties has made oranges a commonly consumed fruit.

Seedless Cultivation

The cultivation of seedless oranges greatly increased the overall popularity of the orange market more than 100 years ago, leading to the transformation of thousands of acres of cattle grazing land into orange groves in California and Florida. In three decades leading up to 1900, Los Angeles boomed from a town of 6,000 residents to a city of 120,000. Los Angeles resident Luther Tibbets is credited with cultivating the seedless navel orange, which greatly increased the profit of the orange industry.

Navel Oranges

Large, sweet navel oranges come in both seeded and seedless varieties. The oranges were named such by California growers who thought the orange blossoms resembled human navels. Luther Tibbets created the first seedless navel in the late 1800s in California and it has been a staple of the orange market ever since. Tibbets imported three seedless orange navel trees from Bahia, Brazil. While they started as a small portion of the market, they have made up 95 percent of the sale of navel oranges for more than 100 years.


Clementines are a small, sweet type of mandarin orange. The main difference between mandarins and clementines is that clementines are seedless while mandarins have seeds. Loose skin makes both clementines and all mandarins easy to peel. The cultivation of the clementine orange is traced back to Pierre Clement, who crossed an orange with a seedless mandarin at the beginning of the 20th century.


Satsumas are a small type of mandarin orange which, like clementines, are also seedless. Their incredibly loose skin is their distinguishing feature and the characteristic which sets them apart from clementines, although the two are often marketed as clementines in grocery stores. Satsuma cultivation originated in Japan, and because they are fairly cold-hardy citrus plants, their cultivation was possible in other gulf coast states beyond Florida, in addition to California.