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Citrus ID


Citrus tachibana





Cultivar or taxon


Citrus reticulata Blanco (sec. Zhang and Mabberley 2008, Bayer et al. 2009); Citrus tachibana (Mak.) Tan. (sensu Swingle and Reece 1967; sensu Tanaka sec. Cottin 2002)



Swingle and Reece (1967) noted that:

"If, as some experts believe, Citrus is native to southern Japan, there would be an extension of the northern corner of this area to include Citrus tachibana."

"The widespread occurrence of the tachibana, from southern Taiwan to the southwestern province of the main island of Japan, makes it very probable that it is in fact a wild species that has persisted since prehistoric times. Tanaka (1931) published in Japanese a detailed account of the occurrence of C. tachibana in a wild condition in southern Japan, on the Ryukyu Islands, and also of its discovery in southern Taiwan where it grows at much higher altitudes than in Japan but where the temperatures are much the same as at sea level along the northern limits of its range."



Crown compact or dense, not weeping. First-year twig surface glabrous; second- or third-year twig surface striate; thorns absent or not persistent; prickles absent or not persistent. Petiole glabrous, length short; wings narrow, adjoining the blade. Leaflets one, margin bluntly toothed, shade leaflet blades flat or weakly conduplicate, sun leaflet blades weakly or strongly conduplicate. Scent of crushed leaflets mandarin-like. Fruit broader than long; rind yellow (7-10), yellow-orange (11), orange (12), or red-orange (13); rind texture medium rough (6-7); firmness leathery; navel absent; flesh orange; taste acidic-sweet.

Swingle and Reece (1967) provided the following additional notes on the species:

"A description of this species by T. Makino, as translated by S. Katsura, reads: "Tree stands over 10 feet. Branches and leaves grow thickly. Strongly resistant to frost or snow. Fruit somewhat flattened, 2-3 cm lateral diam. Skin smooth, oil glands scattered beneath the skin. Segment cases 6-7; juice bitter and almost inedible. Seeds 1-2 in a segment, and rather large in size. Fruits at first green but turning yellow in the late autumn. The flavor of the skin resembles that of Yuzu. Flowers the same as other Citrus plants in time of blooming, shape and color. In the rainy season of summer the petals begin to turn white. Needle-like thorns are found on the branches. Petioles not winged."

A description of the paratype in the herbarium of Hokkaido Imperial University made by Tanaka reads as follows: "Branches small and slender; thorns about 3 mm long, acute. Leaves long, ovate-elliptical, subcoriaceous, broadly acuminate, obtuse and incised at the tip, somewhat broad and convex at the base, indistinctly dentate at the margin, midrib slender, straight and distinct beneath, veins almost indistinct, oil glands indistinct; petiole short, small, with linear wings which seem to be on the verge of degeneration. Flowers axillary, solitary, small. Pedicels 2 mm long, slender, glabrous; scales at the base triangular, ciliate at the margin. Calyx 3 mm in diameter; sepals somewhat recurved outward, densely ciliate at the margin. Disk large, ring-form, subcarnose, depressed at the apex. Ovary almost globular, attenuate at the base, about 2 X 2 mm in size.""

"This species is very similar in many of its characters to the mandarin orange, C. reticulata. The great antiquity of the tachibana in Japan seems to preclude its being a hybrid or "chance seedling" of recent origin. It probably should be considered as a satellite species of C. reticulata and somewhat closely related to it."



Bayer, R.J., D.J. Mabberley, C. Morton, C.H. Miller, I.K. Sharma, B.E. Pfeil, S. Rich, R. Hitchcock, and S. Sykes. 2009. A molecular phylogeny of the orange subfamily (Rutaceae: Aurantioideae) using nine cpDNA sequences. American Journal of Botany 96: 668–685.

Cottin, R. 2002. Citrus of the World: A citrus directory. Version 2.0. France: SRA INRA-CIRAD.

Swingle, W.T. and P.C. Reece. 1967. The botany of Citrus and its wild relatives. In: Reuther, W., H.J. Webber, and L.D. Batchelor (eds.). The Citrus industry. Ed. 2. Vol. I. University of California, Riverside.

Tanaka, T. 1922. Citrus fruits of Japan; with notes on their history and the origin of varieties through bud variation. Journal of Heredity 13: 243–253.

Tanaka, T. 1931. The discovery of Citrus tachibana in Formosa, and its scientific and industrial significance. Studia Citrologica 5: 1–20.

Zhang, D. and D.J. Mabberley. 2008. Citrus. In: Flora of China Editorial Committee (eds.). Flora of China, Vol. 11. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.



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Citrus ID Edition 2
October, 2011