ルビつき和訳には英文の下にございます。/ The fully rubied Japanese translation is below the English text.

This is a continuation of “What is the Satsuma Mandarin?” / これは「サツマみかんとは何か」の続きです。

The US and the Satsuma Mandarin

  1. Citrus unshiu first came to New Orleans?
  2. Jesuits’ oranges in 18th Century
  3. Grafting
  4. Robert Van Valkenburgh
  5. Anna Van Valkenburgh
  6. The first satsuma grove
  7. Dr. George R. Hall
  8. Back in the US
  9. A cold-resistant citrus
  10. The “kid-glove oranges”
  11. The passing of the satsuma gold fever
  12. Satsuma in today’s US 
  13. Satsuma in Charleston, SC
  • The Japanese translation
  • References


1. Citrus unshiu first came to New Orleans?

We found an interesting link in Wikipedia. It connected the Citrus unshiu (the most common variety of the mandarin orange in today’s Japan) page to a blog of a radio station in New Orleans. According to it, in the 18th century, Jesuits established a plantation in what is now New Orleans, LA, and grew satsuma mandarins or Citrus unshiu.

A map to show the place where satsumas came to the US
[Click to enlarge / 画像をクリックすると拡大します] Red crosses = churches; pink areas = areas where Christianity was allowed to practice or propagated; blue arrow = Francisco Xavier’s route of mission; blue dots = Jesuits’ educational institutes; black dots with white inside = ports of call of Portuguese ships. Image by 世界の歴史まっぷ (Maps for World History), English added by Amity.

It means the debut of Citrus unshiu in North America could have taken place in present-day New Orleans. Can it be true?

Let’s see. As far as we know, in the late 16th Century, Jesuits from Spain and Portugal came to Japan to establish missions. They were successful at the beginning. As a result, there were daimyos who converted to Christianity in the area where Citrus unshiu grew (in present-day Kagoshima Prefecture).

Therefore, maybe some Jesuits found Citrus unshiu to be tasty, brought them back to Europe, and about 120 years later, the citrus was introduced to present-day New Orleans. We considered that possibility.

2. Jesuits’ oranges in 18th Century

In the first half of the 18th Century, France was trying to build a colony in today’s New Orleans area. 

The Jesuits from France came to propagate Christianity to native Americans. In addition, the Jesuits built a large plantation there and grew tobacco, sugar and oranges from about 1827 to 1873. The radio station’s theory was that these oranges were actually Citrus unshiu.

There is another theory, though. It says the Jesuits grew oranges from seeds obtained in the West Indies. 

This sounds more plausible to us. It’s because more than one study give support to it by saying that “grafting”, a method indispensable in growing Citrus unshiu, wasn’t practiced in 18th century US citrus cultivation.

3. Grafting

Grafting as a standard procedure in commercial citrus groves began in the US only during the 1870’s. 

An image of grafting, a method necessary to grow satsuma in the US
Grafting / 接ぎ木
Image by ac-photo

On the circumstances, there is an interesting episode in “Florida Fruits and How to Raise Them”, a book published in 1886 by a Helen Harcourt. The author tells us what she heard from a neighbor as follows:

Fourteen years ago, her family moved from the North to Florida. They transplanted several sour orange trees from a nearby orange grove to supply shade in their yard. However, their fruit was always left to fall and rot on the ground since no one wanted it. 

One day, a stranger visited. He argued very eloquently on the great gains by cutting the tops off and inserting buds from a sweet orange in their trunks.

Her husband was interested in practicing it against her opinion. She “scolded and cried” but finally he sawed the trees off and inserted the little green sticks that the stranger had given them.

In three years, they began to have a fine crop of wonderful oranges. Then they created a business to sell oranges. And she, by then the owner of fine groves, blessed the stranger and thanked her husband!

This is a story about sweet oranges, but Citrus unshiu also required grafting. That’s why we think that it was probably the Caribbean orange seeds that the Jesuits grew in New Orleans in the 18th Century. 

Of course it’s possible that the Jesuits did have the knowledge of grafting and grew Citrus unshiu. Maybe the technique and memory were lost in the course of history. We simply couldn’t find information to pursue this possibility. 

4. Robert Van Valkenburgh

The scene has now moved to Japan at the end of Edo Era.

Just around the time of Meiji Restoration, Robert Van Valkenburgh (1822-1888) was appointed Minister Resident to Japan from 1866 to 1869.

His career is so impressive that we wonder if he was chosen and sent to Japan for his competence when Japan was in enormous political turmoil. 

He first studied law and began practice in the state of New York, and then he became a politician. He was elected and held office at the New York State Assembly for a couple of years and as a Republican to the US Congress from 1861 to 1865. During the Civil War, he distinguished himself as a recruiter and an officer. 

However, what we most appreciate is that he took his wife, Anna, upon assuming his new post in Japan. 

5. Anna Van Valkenburgh

Satsuma belongs to what is Kagoshima Prefecture (shown in red) today. / 薩摩は現在の鹿児島にありました。Image by: Lincun – 国土交通省 国土数値情報(行政区域), CC 表示-継承 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.

During their stay in Japan, Anna and her husband travelled on Kyushu Island. It is said that they ate Citrus unshiu in Satsuma (an area in present-day Kagoshima Prefecture).

Anna was immensely pleased with the Japanese mandarins.

She loved them so much that later she had saplings of Citrus unshiu sent from Satsuma to her home in Florida. And she began to grow a satsuma grove in their yard. 

We assume her husband of course worked hard to make it happen, but it is his wife who people believe was the driving force. The arrival of the the citrus was actually nine years after General Van Valkenburgh left the post in Japan.

Thus the Valkenburghs began to grow Citrus unshiu in 1878. It is said to be one of its earliest cultivations in the US.

6. The first “satsuma” grove

Anna Van Valkenburg didn’t call the citrus by any of the original Japanese names such as Unshiu mandarin or Nagashima mandarin. She named it “Satsuma” (to the surprise of our fellow Japanese who hear this). 

Abrupt as it may sound, it was a good new name. In those days, “Unshiu” probably sounded strange in English and people could have wondered how to pronounce it. “Satsuma” looks like a name.

After about ten years, in 1887, Anna passed away. Her husband followed her to the grave the next year, and their property was divided and sold by the family.

This is how the first “satsuma” grove ended its short life. It had seventy-five Citrus unshiu trees including some from Japan.

However, during the ten years the Van Valkenburghs were tending them, the citrus called “satsuma” with unusual characteristics—sweet, pip-less and easily peeled—became known not only in Florida but all over the South. The fame and popularity of General Van Valkenburgh, who was also on the bench as associate justice of the Florida Supreme Court, may have helped the information travel fast. 

Today, their house is still standing in Jacksonville, FL.

Changing hands and enduring many repairs and renovations, it has now become like a maze, but it is still a habitable, historical home. One day, if we have an opportunity to visit Jacksonville, I would like to walk around the house where the mandarin grove used to be.

An image of a plant introduced to the US from Japan by the man who did the same to “satsuma” mandarins
#1 Lilium auratum / ヤマユリ. Image by ac-photo.

7. Dr. George R. Hall

However, people say a Dr. George R Hall (1820-1899) first introduced Citrus unshiu to Florida, i.e., the US, a couple of years earlier than the Van Valkenburghs. 

George R. Hall was born in Bristol, RI. After he graduated from Harvard University, he became a doctor, and began a medical practice in Shanghai, China. 

Several years later, however, Dr. Hall gave up medicine for financial reasons and commenced business with a friend. They first visited Japan in 1855, before Japan was formally open to trade.

An image of the Japanese Yew
#2 Japanese Yew / イチイ. Image by ac-photo

The business went very well. Dr. Hall and his friend had an eye for art and antiques, and so they were able to buy the rarest curios, copper, ivory, jade, lacquerware and porcelains from Japan. Also, the exchange rates of gold and silver were greatly in their favor. 

In 1860, Japan opened a new foreign compound in Yokohama. Dr. Hall moved and stayed there for the last two years of his Oriental sojourn. 

During this period, his latent interest in plants emerged. He began to diligently assemble a collection of Japanese plants in his garden in Yokohama. 

8. Back in the US

#3 Magnolia stellata / シデコブシ. Image by ac-photo.

In 1862, Dr. Hall permanently returned to the US. 

He brought back and offered a lot of the Japanese plants to the nurseries in Massachusetts and New York for propagation and culture. The propagators were very excited to be entrusted with the exotic plants since many of them were then unknown to the US or in Europe. 

In today’s US, many of them (for examples, see photos #1, 2, and 3) are appreciated in gardening and landscaping, but some, such as Japanese honeysuckle, are not welcome since they are very invasive.

Now Dr. Hall began his life back in Bristol. However, a family tragedy soon struck him, and he looked for another place to settle in the US. He began to spend winters in Florida and eventually built a second home near Jacksonville. The rest of his life was spent in travelling between Florida and Bristol, and in tending his gardens in both.

In 1875, he made one more trip to Japan. We reckon he brought Citrus unshiu back this time, because the prevailing view is that he began to grew it in Florida in 1876.

9. A cold-resistant citrus

In the winter of 1880-1881, however, cold waves hit Florida. The afore-mentioned book “Florida Fruit…” tells us of Dr. Hall’s orchard at this occasion as follows:

During the…winter of 1880, the cold wave of December 25th…injured so many trees in the northern and central portions of Florida… On Fort George Island, …where the Satsuma was first planted on Florida soil, lemons, limes, and shaddocks suffered in fruit and limb; sweet oranges lost their leaves and young tender growth, while the Satsumas…did not suffer in the least, either in fruit, leaf, or branch, the leaf not even turning yellow or dropping; and in January, 1881, the same experience was repeated.

”Florida’s Fruits and How to Raise Them”

The cold wave caused Dr. Hall a financial disaster but also proved the “satsuma” to be cold-resistant from the onset. This book was very popular in Florida in those days, so it must have prompted a lot of people who moved from the North to grow “satsumas”. 

10. The “kid-glove” oranges

“Florida Fruit…” also has a description of the fruit of “Satsuma”. It says:

The fruit is medium size, flattened; skin, deep orange color, smooth and thin, easily detached; pulp, dark orange; segments part freely, fine grain, tender, sweet, and delicious; best in quality of the kid-glove family.

“Florida’s Fruit and How to Raise Them”

From around the mid-18th Century, many American women didn’t go out in public without gloves. Whether they thought it was an etiquette to hide their hands made rough-looking from household chores and farming or just fashionable, we don’t know. But the best material for gloves was kid because it was soft, thin and elastic. And white kid was always the choice when they were fully dressed.

Clementines and tangerines were called “kid glove oranges”. They were so easy to peel that they didn’t even soil the fingertips of the fancy gloves, hence the name. It is a little flattering to hear the “satsuma” was called the best quality of them.

Perhaps this quality of “satsumas” pleased Ana Van Valkenburgh, too.

11. The passing of the “satsuma gold fever”

(1) “The Satsuma Belt” in early 20th Century / 20世紀初頭の「サツマベルト」Image by Reference No. 14

Since the 1880’s, cultivation of the “satsuma” quickly spread. For example, during the period 1908-1911 alone, about a million “satsuma” trees were imported from Owari area, Japan.

The citrus trees were planted throughout the lower Gulf Coast states. In northern Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, people developed an “satsuma” industry so extensively that the area was called “The Satsuma Belt”. 

By the early 1900’s, much of the long-leaf pine forests, once a familiar sight of this area, was clear cut and replaced by “satsuma” trees. Land-owners such as railroad companies gave copious publicity to entice wealthy Northerners to move and buy portions of their property.

Some of those “satsuma” groves were larger than 5,000 acres (2,000 ha). Popular ones were divided into more affordable, smaller farms. 

(2) An ad / 広告 Image by Reference No. 14

Some properties were sold as a set of a house and a “satsuma” grove. According to an advertisement, no hard labor was necessary to grow “satsumas”. And when they ripen, they hang on to the trees for months. You can pick and ship them at your leisure. A nice house. Very safe investment. Only 100 orchards are left!

In the early 1900’s, “satsumas” were also planted as interplants in pecan orchards. The farmers originally planned to remove the “satsuma” trees after a few years. However, production of satsuma was so encouraging that many removed the pecan trees instead. 

(3) A development plan / 宅地開発図 Image by Reference No. 14

In 1915, “The New York Times” reported a success of a former cotton farm in Alabama which had converted itself to a “satsuma” orchard.

We can also feel the passing of the “satsuma gold fever” by the fact that today, there remain four municipalities named “Satsuma” in the South. However, none of them grows the “satsuma” any more. 

Occasional severe freezes in the 1920’s and 1930’s have reduced satsuma acreage.

12. Satsuma in the 21st Century 

Today, “satsuma” is not the mainstream citrus in the US. However, it is an important commercial citrus type grown in the South. Schools there often serve “satsuma” for school lunch in winter.

In many areas in the lower Gulf States, which used to be the “satsuma belt”, people have resumed satsuma cultivation or are considering its resumption in the 21st Century.

Agricultural and Horticultural divisions of universities in these states have learned from history and conducted research on countermeasures for cold waves, effective cultivation, and the improvement of breed. 

According to a paper from Auburn University, the “satsuma” tolerates a cold wave of temperatures as low as 12 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 11 degrees Celsius) if it has been acclimated. 

13. “Satsuma” in Charleston, SC 

An image of a satsuma tree in the US
A Citrus unshiu tree looks totally an American tree with a pretty American home in the background. / 温州みかんなのに、背景が可愛いアメリカのオタクだと、すっかりアメリカンな木に見えます Photo by Lucy Cromwell

South Carolina is located a little north of the Gulf States, but when the season comes, we see saplings of “satsuma” for sale at local nurseries.  

Some of them will grow and bear delicious fruit in a few years like the one at our neighbor’s who kindly shared some with us.

We quickly consumed them, but after that we were able to buy “satsumas” at nearby supermarkets and continued to eat them from December to February.

Speaking of supermarkets, it was easy to find “satsumas” among many varieties of oranges and mandarins. It’s because “satsumas” were the only citrus sold with one or two leaves on a tiny branch attached to each fruit. We had never seen Citrus unshiu sold thus in Japan. Some say the leaves create natural shock absorber, thereby protecting the delicate citrus during transportation. 

We think it’s a great idea.


This was the story about the US and Satsuma.

Next post will be about how Citruc unshu was brought to the United Kingdom and given the name “satsuma”. We hope to see you there. =>The UK and the “Satsuma” mandarin

[End of the English post]




  1. うんしゅうみかんがニューオーリンズに?
  2. 18じゅうはっせいイエズスかいのオレンジ
  3. 手法しゅほう
  4. ロバート・ヴァン・ヴォルケンバーグ
  5. アナ・ヴァン・ヴォルケンバーグ
  6. 最初さいしょの「サツマ」樹園じゅえん
  7. ジョージ・R・ホールはく
  8. 米国べいこくもどって
  9. 「サツマ」はかんえた
  10. じんよごさない「サツマ」
  11. サツマ・ゴールド・フィーバーのだい
  12. 21にじゅういっせいの「サツマ」
  13. チャールストンの「サツマ」
  • 参考資料





わたしたちがっているはんでは、16じゅうろくせい後半こうはんほんで、スペインやポルトガルのイエズスかいしゅうどうたちがせんきょう活動かつどうおこなっていました。活動かつどうはじめかなりこう調ちょうで、うんしゅうみかんが発生はっせいしたいき (現在げんざい鹿しまけん) にもキリシタンになっただいみょうがおりました。[16じゅうろくせいすえのキリシタンだいみょうりょうなどのは、英文えいぶん第一節だいいっせつをごさんしょうください]









について、のちにれるヘレン・ハーコートちょ『Florida Fruits and How to Raise Themフロリダの果物くだものとそのそだかた』(1886せんはっぴゃくはちじゅうろくねん)に、面白おもしろいエピソードがあります。著者ちょしゃ近所きんじょ女性じょせいからいたはなしです。








4. ロバート・ヴァン・ヴォルケンバーグ


ちょうど大政奉還たいせいほうかんぜん1866せんはっぴゃくろくじゅうろくねんから1869せんはっぴゃくろくじゅうきゅうねんちゅう日米国弁にちべいこくべんこう使だったのは、ロバート・ヴァン・ヴォルケンバーグ (1822せんはっぴゃくにじゅうにから1888せんはっぴゃくはちじゅうはち) というひとでした。




. アナ・ヴァン・ヴォルケンバーグ

ほんちゅうざいちゅう、ヴァン・ヴォルケンバーグさいきゅうしゅう旅行りょこうしたとき、さつ (現在げんざい鹿島県しまけんいき) でうんしゅうみかんをあじわうかいがありました。






アナじんはまた、「うんしゅうみかん」や「長島ながしまみかん」などほん使つかわれていたまえらず、「Satsuma」と命名めいめいしました (本人ほんじんはここでおどろきます)。







7. ジョージ・R・ホールはく

一方いっぽう米国べいこく最初さいしょうんしゅうみかんをんだのは、ヴァン・ヴォルケンバーグさいより2年前ねんまえ1876せんはっぴゃくななじゅうろくねん、ジョージ・R・ホールはく (1820せんはっぴゃくにじゅうから1899せんはっぴゃくきゅうじゅうきゅう) であったというせつゆうりょくです。






8. 米国べいこくもどって






9. 「サツマ」はかんえた


1880せんはっぴゃくはちじゅうねんクリスマス当日とうじつかんは、フロリダのほくちゅう壊滅的かいめつてきがいあたえた (こうりゃく)。フォート・ジョージとうのセント・ジョンがわこうは (ちゅうりゃく)「サツマ」がはじめてフロリダのえられたしょである。ここのレモン、ライム、ざぼんはじつみきがやられ、オレンジの若枝わかえだちたが、サツマは (ちゅうりゃく) にもにもえだにもじょうがなかった。ばんだりちたりすることすらなかった。翌年1月よくねんいちがつかんさい同様どうようであった。




10. 「キッドの手袋」みかん




18じゅうはっせいなかこう米国べいこくではおおやけ姿すがたあらわときかならぶくろをはめる女性じょせいおおかったといいます。のうぎょうれたかくすことをエチケットとかんがえたのか、たんなるりゅうこうかはわかりません。ともかく、ぶくろざい一番いちばんいものはしなやかでうすしんしゅくせいのあるキッド (ひつじがわ) 。とくに、ドレスアップするならキッドのしろまっていました。



11. サツマ・ゴールド・フィーバーだい



20にじゅっせいはじめまでには、このほう風物ふうぶつだったダイオウマツ (大王松だいおうまつ) はほとんどはらわれてしまいました。ここに広大こうだい所有しょゆうしていた鉄道会社てつどうがいしゃなどが「サツマ」樹園じゅえん開発かいはつおこない、ほく裕福ゆうふく人々ひとびとってじゅうすることをたいして、おおかりな広報活動こうほうかつどうおこなったのです。

2,000にせんヘクタール (5,000ごせんエーカー) じょうだい「サツマ」樹園じゅえんもありましたが、こうにゅうしやすい面積めんせきで「サツマ」栽培さいばいができるぶんじょうのう大人だいにんでした。






12. 21にじゅういっせいの「サツマ」





13. チャールストンの「サツマ」







次回は、うんしゅうみかんが英国へもたらされ、「サツマ」と呼ばれるようになった経緯についてお話をしたいと思います。=> 英国と「サツマ」みかん


References / 参考資料

  1. WWNO Farmer’s Market/satsuma, www.publicbroadcasting.net/wwno/newsmain/article/6681/0/1567462/Farmer’s.Market/Satsumas

2. 南蛮貿易とキリスト教、キリシタン大名地図©︎世界の歴史まっぷ, https://sekainorekisi.com/japanese_history/南蛮貿易とキリスト教/

3. The history of the Jesuits in New Orlearns, Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church, https://jesuitchurch.net/the-parish

4. The citrus fruit industry in Louisiana, S. H. Bederman, Southeastern Geographer Vol. 1, University of North Carolina Press, https://www.jstor.org/stable/44370456

5. Florida fruits and how to raise them, Harcourt, H, https://stars.library.ucf.edu/floridaheritage/34/

6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_B._Van_Valkenburgh

7. https://jaxpsychogeo.com/east/empire-point-suddath-van-valkenburgh-house/

8. George Rogers Hall, Lover of Plants, James M. Howe, Jr., Journal of the Arnold Arboretum Vol. 4, No. 2, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, http://jstor.org/stable/43780354?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

9. https://unlgardens.unl.edu/documents/the-first-japanese-plants-for-new-england.pdf

10. Helen Harcourt, Late 19th Century Guidebooks, https://myfloridahistory.org/frontiers/radio/program370

11. Gloves in the Mid-1800’s, https://hollysheen.blogspot.com/2017/04/gloves-in-mid-1800s.html

12. The Satsuma Mandarin, Andersen & Ferguson, IFAS Extension, University of Florida, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/CH/CH11600.pdf

13. Production Practices for Satsuma Mandarins in the Southeastern United States, American Society for Horticultural Science, https://journals.ashs.org/hortsc/view/journals/hortsci/43/2/article-p290.xml

14. Satsuma Cultivar Evaluations, J. Spiers, Horticulture Department, Auburn University, nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/phas/files/2018/03/Satsuma-Cultivars.pdf

15. Logging train at work-Pensacola, Florida, Florida Memory, State Library and Archives of Florida, https://floridamemory.com/items/show/24984

16. Sectional Map of Florida, 1888-East and Southern Portion, Florida Memory, State Library and Archives of Florida, https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/322994

17. Crop Profile for Satsuma Mandarin in Alabama, https://ipmdata.ipmcenters.org/documents/cropprofiles/ALsatsumamandarin.pdf

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