Do you crave the sweet taste of an orange without the acidity and tartness that can really make your mouth pucker? Then the Pixie Mandarin is the perfect citrus variety for you! This is an easy backyard grower and a delicious snack or component to any citrus dish.
Read on to learn all the fantastic details about the wonderful Pixie Mandarin variety.
History of the Pixie Mandarin
Just as dainty and delicious as its name might suggest, this mandarin—also known as the Pixie Tangerine—can trace its origins all the way back to 1927.
This was the year when a man named Howard Brett Frost attempted to crossbreed two mandarin varieties, called the King and the Dancy. His hope was to produce a tangor variety that would ripen late like the King, while having the flavor profile depth of the Dancy.
The initial resulting fruit from this experimental breeding was called the Kincy, a larger and still quite seedy variety. Then, an unexpected next generation of pollination gave rise to the Pixie Mandarin, which is either an F2 hybrid of the Kincy, or the result of an unknown pollination donor.
Whichever the case, the result of Frost’s work at the University of California became quite popular and was released to the public by Frost’s colleagues, Robert Soost and James Cameron, in 1965. Thus, the Pixie hybrid became available to the public, where it has been deeply loved ever since.
Characteristics of the Pixie Mandarin
The Pixie Mandarin achieved what Frost initially intended with his work: this is a sweet and juicy fruit that ripens late but maintains a full body of flavor in the process.
A typical Pixie Mandarin maintains a bright yellowish to rich orange hue common of mandarin and tangerine types, and it ranges in size from small to medium. The fruit shape is usually round with occasional flat bottoms or more of an oblong shape.
The Pixie Mandarin rind is usually of middling thickness and is very easy to peel, and the fruit itself is generally seedless, though 1 or 2 seeds may crop up here and there.
In terms of taste, the great draw of the Pixie Mandarin is that it is generally less assertive than some of its other mandarin counterparts. Though it is moderately juicy, the Pixie Mandarin retains a milder citrus flavor that may be enjoyed even by those who don’t typically like the very forward acidity of some other mandarin and citrus varieties.
Pixie Mandarin Specifics
One of the most wonderful things about Pixie Mandarins is that they can be enjoyed in full ripeness from late summer to early spring! This means there are plenty of opportunities to consume them as a delicious and healthy snack almost all year round.
And that is the way most folks enjoy the Pixie Mandarin: as a simple, raw snack, peeled and segmented. When the membrane is removed, it also makes for a great food for little ones learning to eat solids and working to expand their palates. Because these mandarins are small and easy to peel, they also make a great snack to keep on hand for toddlers and kiddos of all ages, so they have something healthy and easy to eat.
If you are feeling adventurous, there are lots of other ways to enjoy the Pixie Mandarin! This variety can make an excellent component to just about any dish you would typically use mandarins or tangerines in. Think muffins, breads, cakes, and other sweet baking options! They are also fantastic when candied, and can be combined in a fruit salad with other, milder fruits such as banana, melon, peach, or apricot.
In addition, the Pixie Mandarin can be used in dishes that require an orange zest or orange sauce, such as fish, duck, or chicken, and it can pair well with certain styles of sashimi.
Like most types of citrus, there are plenty of health benefits to consuming the Pixie Mandarin regularly in your diet. One of the best-known health benefits of the Pixie Mandarin is the hearty boost of antioxidants it offers, such as Vitamin C. This will help keep your immune system in tip-top shape, as well as help with reducing inflammation throughout the body. This combination of health benefits will give you an overall better, more energized feeling.
The antioxidant properties in Pixie Mandarins and other mandarin types have also been known to help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, modulate cholesterol, and even lower the risk for certain types of cancers.
In addition, the Pixie Mandarin is a great source of many types of vitamins and minerals, which helps in a number of ways. The fiber in these mandarins helps with the maintenance of a healthy weight, a clean digestive tract, healthy skin, nails, hair, and much more.
There is truly a powerhouse of health benefits to the regular consumption of the Pixie Mandarin!
Growing At Home
As it is a dwarf variety of mandarin tree, this mandarin does not take up very much space and it can be grown by just about anyone. It can be said this is a great patio plant as well as a great landscaping plant!
Your Pixie Mandarin should be grown in a pot if you live in planting Zones 4-10, so that it can be brought inside and out of harm’s way in the event of a frost. If you live in planting Zones 9-10, your Pixie Mandarin tree may be planted directly into the ground.
Whether you are growing your Pixie Mandarin tree in a pot or in the ground, it will require a couple of key components to thrive. The biggest factor is that your Pixie Mandarin tree will need well-drained soil and regular watering in order to remain healthy and maximize its harvest. In addition, you will want to have soil that is mildly acidic and keep to a regular fertilizer schedule of about every 6 weeks once the plant is established.
When these aspects are provided and the Pixie Mandarin tree has access to at least 6 hours of full sunlight per day, you can expect to reap a bountiful harvest! Within 3 to 5 years, you will be enjoying delicious Pixie Mandarin fruit from a tree roughly 8 to 10 feet tall, grown in your own home or yard.
Where To Buy
Depending on where you live, you may just be fortunate enough to find Pixie Mandarins are available at your local grocer or supermarket! However, there is never any guarantee of that; so to ensure you get a chance to try this sweet and mild citrus, you will want to find seeds or a tree and grow your own at home.
It is always considered best practice to search for a Pixie Mandarin tree for sale at your local nursery, tree farm, farmstand, etc., in order to support your local businesses. However, if you are unable to locate Pixie Mandarin trees or seeds for sale in your area, never fear. There are a couple of reliable online options you can try out.
For sourcing young Pixie variety trees, you will likely have a good experience purchasing from Nature Hills.
Wrapping Up the Pixie Mandarin
Are you excited to sample this delicious, mild, and sweet Pixie Mandarin variety grown right in your own backyard? Be sure you are prepared to truly help your mandarin tree thrive!
Excited for more orange content? Check out our orange trees page to start learning everything there is to know about your favorite citrus!