Mango back

Mango with leaf and slices isolated on white background

Description

The mango is a juicy stone fruit belonging to the genus Mangifera, consisting of numerous tropical fruiting trees, cultivated mostly for edible fruit. The majority of these species are found in nature as wild mangoes. They all belong to the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The mango is native to South and Southeast Asia, from where it has been distributed worldwide to become one of the most cultivated fruits in the tropics. The highest concentration of Mangifera genus is in the western part of Malesia (Sumatra, Java and Borneo) and in Burma and India. While other Mangifera species (e.g. horse mango, M. foetida) are also grown on a more localized basis, Mangifera indica—the “common mango” or “Indian mango”—is the only mango tree commonly cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions. It originated in Indian subcontinent (present day India and Pakistan) and Burma. It is the national fruit of India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, and the national tree of Bangladesh. In several cultures, its fruit and leaves are ritually used as floral decorations at weddings, public celebrations, and religious ceremonies.

Mango trees grow up to 35–40 m (115–131 ft) tall, with a crown radius of 10 m (33 ft). The trees are long-lived, as some specimens still fruit after 300 years. In deep soil, the taproot descends to a depth of 6 m (20 ft), with profuse, wide-spreading feeder roots; the tree also sends down many anchor roots, which penetrate several feet of soil. The leaves are evergreen, alternate, simple, 15–35 cm (5.9–13.8 in) long, and 6–16 cm (2.4–6.3 in) broad; when the leaves are young they are orange-pink, rapidly changing to a dark, glossy red, then dark green as they mature. The flowers are produced in terminal panicles 10–40 cm (3.9–15.7 in) long; each flower is small and white with five petals 5–10 mm (0.20–0.39 in) long, with a mild, sweet odor suggestive of lily of the valley. Over 400 varieties of mangoes are known, many of which ripen in summer, while some give double crop. The fruit takes three to six months to ripen.

The ripe fruit varies in size and color. Cultivars are variously yellow, orange, red, or green, and carry a single flat, oblong pit that can be fibrous or hairy on the surface, and which does not separate easily from the pulp. Ripe, unpeeled mangoes give off a distinctive resinous, sweet smell. Inside the pit 1–2 mm (0.039–0.079 in) thick is a thin lining covering a single seed, 4–7 mm (0.16–0.28 in) long. The seed contains the plant embryo.