Tangerine Essential Oil: Photo Credit, ISP
Tangerine Essential Oil: Photo Credit, ISP

I admit that these two essential oils confused me for a while, particularly when I first moved to the United States – and they probably do have more in common than in difference – but there are subtle differences between the mandarin and the tangerine. Therefore, I thought it was worthwhile to summarize the differences and similarities between tangerine and mandarin essential oils in this week’s post. Enjoy!

Mandarin or Tangerine?

Historically, the mandarin (Citrus reticulata) dates back further than the tangerine (Citrus reticulata blanco). The mandarin was introduced to Europe via the Far East in approximately 1805. Forty years later, the mandarin made its transatlantic crossing to the United States – where it was promptly re-named the tangerine. The names mandarin and tangerine are sometimes used interchangeably – although this is not strictly correct. Over time, subtle differences have emerged between the two fruits. Tangerines are lighter in color than mandarins.

Mandarin and Tangerine Essential Oil

You will usually find that mandarin essential oil is more common in the UK and Europe whereas tangerine essential oil is more common in the United States. However, given the advancement of world trade markets, both oils travel across continents – and you’ll see tangerine essential oil now being offered by European essential oil distributors.

Although the chemical make-up of both essential oils is somewhat similar, mandarin essential oil is often considered the more valuable essential oil with regard to the value of its therapeutic properties.

Mandarin Essential Oil

Mandarin essential oil is extracted from the outer peel of the mandarin fruit. Mandarin is citrus fruit, belonging to the plant family Rutaceae. Results vary with regard to its potential photo-toxicity as an essential oil, so use with care in sunlight as a precaution.

Mandarin essential oil has a light, citrus aroma. It is used in aromatherapy practice for digestive problems, skin care, anxiety and stress.

Tangerine Essential Oil

Tangerine essential oil is extracted from the outer peel of the tangerine fruit. Tangerine, naturally, also belongs to the Rutaceae plant family and is very similar in appearance to mandarin.

Tangerine essential oil has a sweet, citrus aroma. In aromatherapy practice, it is used for many of the same purposes as mandarin essential oil. Its photo-toxicity potential is also inconclusive, so take the same precautions in use as for mandarin essential oil.

Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie Courses

Both of the essential oils described in this post are studied in the Sedona Aromatherapie Certification Course in Professional Aromatherapy. To learn more about this course program – and other courses with Sedona Aromatherapie – visit the courses home page.


  • Caddy, Rosemary, 1997, Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Colour, UK: Amberwood Publishing Ltd

  • Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons

  • Penny Price Academy of Aromatherapy

  • Author is a trained and certified aromatherapist

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