The clementine is the fruit of Citrus Clementina, a member of the Rutaceae family and thought to be a hybrid of mandarin and orange; the fruit is also known in Italy as “mandarancio”.
It is a rounded fruit (or berry) with thick but easy to peel skin, juicy segments and a bright orange colour.
The tree is quite similar to the mandarin (Citrus Nobilis), apart from the leaves, which are slightly larger and broader; evergreen and with perfumed white flowers.
Being extremely sensitive to changes in the weather, it fruits unevenly and slowly. In recent decades, this is the most popular fruit in Italy, after oranges.
The name Celementine comes from the man who discovered this hybrid; however, there are two theories about his identity. Some sources claim that the cross was created accidentally by Father Clément Rodier from the Missergin monastery in Oran (Algeria). But others say it was created deliberately by Pierre Clément, also a priest, before 1940.
Nevertheless it is also unclear whether the hybrid was created in Europe or introduced to the Mediterranean by importation from China (or Japan) like its parent the mandarin.