All About the Lee x Nova Mandarin

All About the Lee x Nova Mandarin

2 minute read

While Lee x Nova Mandarins is by no means a new variety, having been around since the 1960s, it has only recently become widely available. If you are looking for a new seedless, easy to peel citrus variety for your yard or garden that produces excellent fruit look no further.

Fruit & Tree Characteristics:

Lee x Nova is an early bearing variety that produces seedless, reddish-orange fruit with a thin rind that makes for easy peeling. The fruit is rich, sweet, and bursting with juice. The large mandarin is round and tends to have a blossom end bump. The semi-dwarf mandarin can grow up to 10’-15’ when planted in the ground but are easily kept compact if grown in a container or with regular pruning.


This variety was developed in 1966 by Jack Hearn at the Florida-based USDA citrus breeding program, by crossing Lee and Nova mandarins. By chance, they created a seedless, juicy fruit with explosive flavor. There was one problem. The trees would not produce enough fruit to be commercially viable.

It was not until 22 years later, in 1988, that Hearn sent bud-wood to UC Riverside, where it went under the name USDA 88-2, in hopes that the California climate would save the variety. The experiment was a success and the trees finally cropped. From there the variety was picked up by orchards all over California where the name USDA 88-2 was quickly thrown out for obvious reasons. The growers came up with names like Super Nova because of its explosive flavor, Superna, and Lee x Nova. Both Lee x Nova fruit and trees can now be purchased around the country.

Growing Conditions:

Like most mandarins and other citrus, Lee x Nova needs 8 or more hours of direct sunlight per day and a very well-draining soil mix. Water deeply once a week or less depending on soil moistness and remember that citrus does not like to be overwatered or have continuously wet roots. Regular fertilizing in the spring is recommended to keep your tree happy and healthy.


Author: Israel Osuna


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