Sometimes, it’s interesting to do a bit of background research on some of the plants and trees you grow. When choosing our mandarin variety, I did exactly that and found something with a little bit of Australian history to it.
The mandarin I planted a couple of days ago is an Ellendale mandarin. It is named after the Ellendale Orchard on the banks of the Burrum River near Bundaberg, in Queensland. It originated around 1878, and is believed to be a natural hybrid between a mandarin and an orange.
The Ellendale mandarin is now regarded as an old-fashioned variety, ditched by commercial growers in favour of new varieties that give more consistent flavour (not necessarily better!) and that are easier to peel. Ellendales are also moderately seedy, and many growers prefer seedless varieties now.
Ellendales have both high sugar and high acid content. The acid content declines during storage, so they are a good fruit to put away (they last more than 3 months at 3-4 C). Their eating quality is actually improved by storage. They can also be left on the tree long after they have ripened, giving an extended harvest period – great for home gardens!
As a late-season variety (maturing in July – August), the Ellendale mandarin can be paired with an earlier variety such as Satsuma or Imperial to give a good supply of fruit for much of the year. This is exactly what we’ll be doing when we get some more garden beds built!