Clementines have now become a ‘must’ in Calabrian fruit and vegetable production, and can be considered a real gem of Calabria. These sweet-tasting fruits, whose scientific name is Citrus x Clementina, are a hybrid of the Mandarin orange and the Seville orange. The plant is thought to be the result of pure chance, from a graft made by Father Clément Rodier in 1898. It was introduced into Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, spreading into Calabria by mistake, alongside orange plants, in the early 1920s, before the crop finally became widespread between 1930 and 1950 – and in the Sibari Plain and the Gioia Tauro Plain in Calabria, this citrus plant found its ideal habitat. Here, the biological, soil and weather conditions made it possible to produce high-quality products which have become a launch pad for socioeconomic development for the whole area.
Today, on the regional and Italy-wide citrus growing scene, the Sibari Plain is certainly the leading clementine producer. In 2007, Onafruit, the national fruit tasters’ organisation, named the citrus fruit produced in Calabria first among the products of the Mediterranean basin for the quality of its taste and scent. Its high vitamin C content means that eating one or two fruits is enough to meet an adult’s daily requirements.
What can we say? So many health-giving qualities in one small fruit, along with the very essence of Calabria.