As we mentioned earlier, the tangelo is a man-made hybrid of the tangerine and the pomelo. In fact, that’s where the tangelo got its name. However, it is common for people to confuse the tangelo with the tangerine, mandarin, and orange.
To add to the confusion, there are different varieties of tangelos and all are not necessarily created from tangerines and pomelos. One common variant, the Minneola tangelo, is a hybrid of the tangerine and Duncan grapefruit. Another variant was created by crossing a mandarin with a pomelo, which technically makes it an orange.
The tangelo is believed to have first appeared in the forests of Southeast Asia 3,500 years ago when insects cross-pollinated the mandarin with a fruit that is closely related to the grapefruit. However, today’s tangelos are the result of a selective breeding program that started in the 1800s.
At the forefront of the tangelo project was the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which created the popular Minneola tangelo sold across the United States. The USDA released the seeds of the Minneola tangelo in 1931. It is named after the city of Minneola, Florida.