The mango is a juicy stone fruit belonging to the genus Mangifera, consisting of numerous tropical fruiting trees that are 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 situated in 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 India 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.
BOTANICAL NAME: (Mangifera indica L.)
Unripe mangoes on a mango tree
Mango trees (Mangifera indica L.) 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. There are over 400 varieties of mango, 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.
The English word “mango” (plural “mangoes” or “mangos”) originated from the Malayalam word māṅṅa via Portuguese (also manga) during spice trade with Kerala in 1498 The word’s first recorded attestation in a European language was a text by Ludovico di Varthema in Italian in 1510, as manga; the first recorded occurrences in languages such as French and post-classical Latin appear to be translations from this Italian text. The origin of the “-o” ending in English is unclear. Mango is also mentioned by Hendrik van Rheede the Dutch commander of Malabar(Northern Kerala) in his book Hortus Malabaricus, a compendium of the plants of economic and medical value in the Malabar, published in 1678. When mangoes were first imported to the American colonies in the 17th century, they had to be pickled due to lack of refrigeration. Other fruits were also pickled and came to be called “mangoes”, especially bell peppers, and by the 18th century, the word “mango” became a verb meaning “to pickle”.
Mangoes have been cultivated in South Asia for thousands of years and reached East Asia between the fifth and fourth centuries BC. By the 10th century AD, cultivation had begun in East Africa. The 14th century Moroccan traveler, Ibn Battuta, reported it at Mogadishu. Cultivation came later to Brazil, the West Indies and Mexico, where an appropriate climate allows its growth.
The mango is now cultivated in most frost-free tropical and warmer subtropical climates; almost half of the world’s mangoes are cultivated in India alone, with the second-largest source being China. Mangoes are also grown in Andalusia, Spain (mainly in Málaga province), as its coastal subtropical climate is one of the few places in mainland Europe that allows the growth of tropical plants and fruit trees. The Canary Islands are another notable Spanish producer of the fruit. Other cultivators include North America (in South Florida and California’s Coachella Valley), South and Central America, the Caribbean, Hawai’i, south, west and central Africa, Australia, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia. Though India is the largest producer of mangoes, it accounts for less than one percent of the international mango trade; India consumes most of its own production.
Many commercial cultivars are grafted on to the cold-hardy rootstock of Gomera-1 mango cultivar, originally from Cuba. Its root system is well adapted to coastal Mediterranean climate. Many of the 1,000+ mango cultivars are easily cultivated using grafted saplings, ranging from the “turpentine mango” (named for its strong taste of turpentine) to the huevos de toro Dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties serve as ornamental plants and can be grown in containers. A wide variety of diseases can afflict mangoes; see List of mango diseases.
Mangoes are generally sweet, although the taste and texture of the flesh varies across cultivars; some have a soft, pulpy texture similar to an overripe plum, while others are firmer, like a cantaloupe or avocado, and some may have a fibrous texture. The skin of unripe, pickled, or cooked mango can be consumed but has the potential to cause contact dermatitis of the lips, gingiva, or tongue in susceptible people.
Mangoes are widely used in cuisine. Sour, unripe mangoes are used in chutneys, athanu, pickles, side dishes, or may be eaten raw with salt, chili, or soy sauce. A summer drink called Aam panna comes from mangoes. Mango pulp made into jelly or cooked with red gram dhal and green chillies may be served with cooked rice. Mango lassi is popular throughout South Asia, prepared by mixing ripe mangoes or mango pulp with buttermilk and sugar. Ripe mangoes are also used to make curries. Aamras is a popular thick juice made of mangoes with sugar or milk, and is consumed with chapatis or pooris. The pulp from ripe mangoes is also used to make jam called mangada. Andhra Aavakaaya is a pickle made from raw, unripe, pulpy and sour mango, mixed with chilli powder, fenugreek seeds, mustard powder, salt, and groundnut oil. Mango is also used in Andhra to make Dal preparations. Gujaratis use mango to make chunda (a grated mango delicacy).
Mangoes are used in preserves such as moramba, amchur (dried and powdered unripe mango), and pickles, including a spicy mustard-oil pickle and alcohol. Ripe mangoes are often cut into thin layers, desiccated, folded, and then cut. These bars are similar to dried guava fruit bars available in some countries. The fruit is also added to cereal products such as muesli and oat granola. Mangoes are often prepared charred in the American state of Hawaii.
Unripe mango may be eaten with bagoong (especially in the Philippines), fish sauce, or with dash of salt. Dried strips of sweet, ripe mango (sometimes combined with seedless tamarind to form mangorind) are also popular. Mangoes may be used to make juices, mango nectar, and as a flavoring and major ingredient in ice cream and sorbetes.
Mango is used to make juices, smoothies, ice cream, fruit bars, raspados, aguas frescas, pies, and sweet chili sauce, or mixed with chamoy, a sweet and spicy chili paste. It is popular on a stick dipped in hot chili powder and salt or as a main ingredient in fresh fruit combinations. In Central America, mango is either eaten green mixed with salt, vinegar, black pepper and hot sauce, or ripe in various forms. Toasted and ground pumpkin seed (called pepita) with lime and salt are the norm when eating green mangoes. Some people also add soy sauce or chili sauce.
Pieces of mango can be mashed and used as a topping on ice cream or blended with milk and ice as milkshakes. Sweet glutinous rice is flavored with coconut, then served with sliced mango as a dessert. In other parts of Southeast Asia, mangoes are pickled with fish sauce and rice vinegar. Green mangoes can be used in mango salad with fish sauce and dried shrimp. Mango with condensed milk may be used as a topping for shaved ice.
Nutrients and phytochemicals
A mango shown whole
and in cross section
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
250 kJ (60 kcal)
Vitamin A equiv.
Pantothenic acid (B5)
Link to USDA Database entry
• μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
• IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
The energy value per 100 g (3.5 oz) is 250 kJ (60 kcal), and that of the apple mango is slightly higher (79 kcal per 100g). Mango contains a variety of phytochemicals and nutrients.
Mango peel and pulp contain other compounds, such as pigment carotenoids and polyphenols, and omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Although not confirmed scientifically, mango peel pigments may have biological effects, including carotenoids, such as the provitamin A compound, beta-carotene, lutein and alpha-carotene, polyphenols such as quercetin, kaempferol, gallic acid, caffeic acid, catechins, tannins, and the unique mango xanthonoid, mangiferin, which are under preliminary research for their potential to counteract various disease processes. Phytochemical and nutrient content appears to vary across mango cultivars. Up to 25 different carotenoids have been isolated from mango pulp, the densest of which was beta-carotene, which accounts for the yellow-orange pigmentation of most mango cultivars. Peel and leaves also have significant polyphenol content, including xanthonoids, mangiferin and gallic acid.
The mango triterpene, lupeol, is an effective inhibitor in laboratory models of prostate and skin cancers. An extract of mango branch bark called Vimang, isolated by Cuban scientists, contains numerous polyphenols with antioxidant properties in vitro and on blood parameters of elderly humans.
The pigment euxanthin, known as Indian yellow, is often thought to be produced from the urine of cattle fed mango leaves; the practice is described as having been outlawed in 1908 due to malnutrition of the cows and possible urushiol poisoning. This supposed origin of euxanthin appears to rely on a single, anecdotal source, and Indian legal records do not outlaw such a practice.
Production and consumption
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates worldwide production at nearly 38,600,000 tonnes (42,500,000 short tons) in 2011 (table below). India is the biggest producer of mangoes with nearly 40% of world’s production. Controlling attacks of mango mealybugs on fruiting mango trees, however, is a major challenge.
Many hundreds of named mango cultivars exist. In mango orchards, several cultivars are often crossed to improve pollination. Many desired cultivars are monoembryonic and must be propagated by grafting or they do not breed true. A common mono-embryonic cultivar is Alphonso, an important export product, considered as “the king of mangoes”.
Cultivars that excel in one climate may fail elsewhere. For example, Indian cultivars such as Julie, a prolific cultivar in Jamaica, require annual fungicide treatment to escape a lethal fungal disease known as anthracnose in Florida. Asian mangoes are resistant to anthracnose.
The current world market is dominated by the cultivar Tommy Atkins, a seedling of Haden that first fruited in 1940 in southern Florida, U.S. It was initially rejected commercially by Florida researchers. For example, 80% of mangoes in UK supermarkets are Tommy Atkins. Despite its fibrous flesh and only fair taste, growers worldwide have embraced the cultivar for its exceptional productivity and disease resistance, shelf life, transportability, size and appealing color.
Alphonso, Benishaan and Kesar mango varieties are popular varieties in India’s southern states, while the Chaunsa variety, among others, is popular in the northern states and Pakistan.
Guatemala markets sell a variety called ‘mango de leche’ which is more resinous outside and inside.
Generally, ripe mangoes have an orange-yellow or reddish peel and are juicy for eating, while exported fruit are often picked while underripe with green peels. Although producing ethylene while ripening, unripened exported mangoes do not have the same juiciness or flavor as fresh fruit.
Like other drupaceous fruits, mangoes come in both freestone and clingstone varieties.
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3. “Mango tree, national tree”. 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
4. “Mango (MANGIFERA INDICA) varieties”. toptropicals.com. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
5. Mango Merriam Webster Dictionary.
“Origin of mango: Portuguese manga, probably from Malayalam māṅga. First Known Use: 1582”
6. “Definition for mango – Oxford Dictionaries Online (World English)”. Oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 2012-06-17.