Native to the Philippines and Southeastern Asia, the Mandarin Orange tree (Citrus Reticulata) is widely grown throughout China, the East Indies, Japan, and India. The Mandarin is known by many names including Clementine, Satsuma, Tangerine, Owari, and Tangor. Having arrived in Europe and America in the early 1800s, this fruit is now grown in many other countries that can offer the proper growing conditions. In particular, it is grown in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, California, Georgia, and Texas. Mexico is noted for supplying excessive amounts of Mandarins, influencing the price greatly. Some of these varieties may involve a cross between a different citrus fruit and the Mandarin orange itself.
A small, perennial, citrus tree, the Citrus Reticulata produces a small orange fruit known as either tangerines or mandarins. However, over a long period of time, this particular evergreen tree can grow to a height of as much as twenty-five feet. Offering a wide span of tree limbs covered with thorns, broad leaves, and slender twigs, the tree generally produces a single white flower, although sometimes it produces a small profusion of sweet-smelling blossoms. Pollination occurs through the presence and activity of bees. The fruit is easily recognizable by its tender, juicy, red-orange flesh and its easily peeled, bright orange skin. It takes anywhere from six to ten months for the fruit to ripen sufficiently for harvest, with fruit located on the outer branches ripening more quickly than fruit on the interior of the tree.
Rich in vitamin C, Citrus Reticulata delivers potent antioxidant benefits, removing dangerous free radicals while enhancing wound healing and contributing to the synthesis of collagen in the skin. Since vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron ingested in food, it also helps to improve the body's overall health. Citrus Reticulata has been noted as offering anti-cancer benefits. In particular, a study undertaken by the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine suggested that the ingestion of Mandarin juice lowers the risk of developing cancer of the liver. Due to its high source of fiber and its ability to make a person's stomach feel full for a longer period of time, eating Citrus Reticulata regularly assists in the loss of weight.
During the time of the Chinese New Year, Mandarin oranges are often part of the celebration as decorative accents. They are also given as gifts to important individuals in a person's life including family, friends, and associates in business endeavors. Moreover, the symbolic nature of Mandarin oranges is focused on the promise of good fortune and abundance for those who receive them as gifts. In traditional Chinese medicine, Mandarin orange peels have been dried for use in treating indigestion and abdominal issues.
Widely used in skincare formulations, essential oil of Citrus Reticulata offers antiseptic action that helps to rejuvenate the skin while also refining its texture. Essential oil of Citrus Reticulata is thought to encourage new skin cell growth, while also minimizing the appearance of scarring caused by excessive acne breakouts, stretch marks, and other types of skin damage. Medicinally, essential oil of Citrus Reticulata acts as a tonic, fighting off infections of the skin while also delivering a soothing action that calms discomfort.
Used traditionally by the Chinese to deliver a calming effect and aid digestion, essential oil of Citrus Reticulata is massaged into the abdomen to reduce the symptoms of flatulence during aromatherapy sessions. These oils are used as non-toxic, non-sensitizing aromatherapy ingredients that offer a sweet top note containing a hint of neroli to restore balance and a sense of clam. Delivering a sweet, delicate aroma, mandarin essential oil can induce a sense of peacefulness, thereby counterbalancing the effect of nervousness and insomnia. They have also been used to treat colds and the flu.
Essential oil of Citrus Reticulata is used in perfume manufacturing and often combined with floral scents to deliver refreshing, light, and uplifting fragrances noted for being mood enhancers. Citrus essential oils are plentiful since they are easily procured. Therefore, they are relatively inexpensive to use. However, since citrus essential oils are generally phototoxic, caution should be used to avoid excessive sunlight when using products containing them. When an ingredient is phototoxic, it means that topical application can increase the likelihood of developing sunburn.