Name, Taxonomy, Botany
The genus Mangifera belongs to the order Sapindales in the family Anacardiaceae, which is a family of mainly tropical species.
Scientific Name: Mangifera indica L.
The Mango (Mangifera indica L.), is the most economically important fruit crop in the Anacardiaceae (Cashew or poison ivy family). Other important members of this family include cashew, pistachio, and the mombins (Spondias spp.). The family contains 73 genera and about 600-850 species, with a few representatives in temperate regions, distinguished by their resinous bark and caustic oils in leaves, bark, and fruits. The other distant relatives of Mangifera are cashew (Anacardium occidentale), gandaria (Bouea gandaria), pistachio (Pistacia vera), marula (Sclerocarya birrea), ambarella (Spondias cytherea), yellow mombin (Spondias mombin), red mombin (Spondias purpurea), imbu (Spondias tuberosa), dragon plums (Dracontomelum spp.) kaffir plum (Harpepbyllum caffrum), etc. Malesia has been considered as the phytogeographic region extending from the Malay Peninsular south of the Kangar-Pattani line to the Bismarck archipelago east ofNew Guinea (Whitmore, 1975). Apart from edible fruit Anacardiaceous species also yield other valuable products like wood, gums and resins, wax and varnishes and tanning materials. It is also a family well known for the dermal irritation produced by some of its members, including some Mangifera species, can cause some form of dermatitis in humans. It is therefore ironic that two of the most delectable nuts and one of the world’s major fruit crops come from this family.
Growth Habit: Mango trees make handsome landscape specimens and shade trees. They are erect and fast growing with sufficient heat, and the canopy can be broad and rounded, or more upright, with a relatively slender crown. It is ultimately a large tree, to 65 ft. The tree is long-lived with some specimens known to be over 300 years old and still fruiting. In deep soil the taproot descends to a depth of 20 ft, and the profuse, wide-spreading feeder roots also send down many anchor roots which penetrate for several feet.
Tree: The mango tree is medium to large 10 to 40 m in height, evergreen with symmetrical, rounded canopy ranging from low and dense to upright and open. Bark is usually dark grey-brown to black, rather smooth, superficially cracked or inconspicuously fissured, peeling off in irregular, rather thick pieces. It attains great age can live well over 100 years. Trees in cultivated orchards are kept at 6 – 9 m height (Figure 1 & 2)
Figure 1. Mango tree with flowers
Figure 2. Mango tree with fruits
Foliage: Mango leaves in general are dark green above and pale below. The leaves are alternate, with no stipules, simple, leathery, oblong-lanceolate to linear. Leaves are variable in shapes like oval-lanceolate, lanceolate, oblong, linear-oblong, ovate, obovate-lanceolate or roundish-oblong depending on variety. The upper surface is shining and dark green while the lower is glabrous light green. The midrib is pale and conspicuous with many prominent light colored horizontal veins distinct. The length and breadth of full-grown leaves varies from 12 to 45 cm and 2 to 12 cm, respectively, depending on variety and growth, and are generally borne in clusters separated by a length of naked stem bearing no buds. These naked stems mark successive flushes of growth. Each flush of growth will harden off to a rich green color before the next flush of growth begins. Emerging leaves on new flushes may appear wilted, flaccid and pendulous. One or two growth flushes occur per year; they are located sporadically across the canopy of a given tree. As the leaf grows its color changes from tan-red to green, passing through many different shades until it becomes shiny dark green above, lighter below, with yellow or white venation at maturity. Leaves may persist several years. The leaves have fibers and crackle when crushed. They strongly smell of turpentine (some cultivars do not smell). The leaves contain considerable amounts of mangiferin (xanthone).
Root: The tree forms a long unbranched long taproot (up to 6 to 8 meters and more) plus a dense mass of superficial feeder roots. Feeder roots develop at the base of the trunk or slightly deeper which form anchor roots and sometimes a collection of feeder roots develops above the water table. The fibrous root system extends away from the drip line. Effective root system of an 18 year old mango tree may observe a 1.2 m depth with lateral spread as far as 7.5 m (Figure 4).
Flowers: Mature terminal branches bear pyramidal flower panicles that have several hundred white flowers that are about a 0.6 cm wide when open (Figure 2). Most of the flowers function as males providing pollen, but some are bisexual and set fruit. Pollination is by flies, wasps, and bees. Hundreds and even as many as 3,000 to 4,000 small, yellowish or reddish flowers, 25% to 98% male, the rest hermaphroditic, are borne in profuse, showy, erect, pyramidal, branched clusters 6-40 cm high. The size of both male and hermaphrodite flowers varies from 6 to 8 mm in diameter. These flowers emit a volatile substance, causing allergic and respiratory problems for some persons. Few of the flowers in each inflorescence are perfect, so most do not produce pollen and are incapable of producing fruit. Panicles that arise later in the bloom season or in shaded parts of the canopy tend to have more hermaphroditic flowers. Panicles are initiated in terminal buds 1-3 months prior to flowering, triggered by low temperatures or seasonally dry conditions. Mangoes are distinct from most fruit crops in that chemical application is used to promote flowering and fruiting. Ethephon, KNO3 and naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) are used to either induce flowering, or enhance fruit set or the proportion of hermaphroditic flowers (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Mango flowers (male & hermaphrodite)
Pollen cannot be shed in high humidity or rain. Fertilization is also ineffective when night temperatures are below 22.8 º C. Mangoes are monoecious and self-fertile, so a single tree will produce fruits without cross pollination. Polyembryonic fruits may not require pollination at all. Branches may be ringed or leaves sprayed with chemicals to induce flowering, but the results are mixed.
Inflorescence: The inflorescence is branched panicle borne at shoot terminals, 6.4 to 40.6 cm, possessing many very small (4 mm) greenish white or pinkish flowers. The inflorescence is a narrowly to broadly conical panicle depending upon cultivar and environmental conditions during its development. The color of the panicle may be yellowish-green, light green with crimson patches or with crimson flush on branches. The branching of the inflorescence is usually tertiary, rarely quaternary, but the ultimate branching is always cymose. Each panicle bears 500 to 6,000 flowers of which 1 to 70 percent are bisexual, the remainder are male depending on the cultivar and temperature during its development. Both male and bisexual flowers are borne on the same tree. The flowers are radially symmetrical, and usually have 5 petals, streaked with red. There is usually only 1 fertile stamen per flower; the 4 other stamens are sterile. The flower has a conspicuous 5-lobed disk between the petals and stamens (Figure 7).
Figure 7. Mango inflorescence
Fruits: The mango fruit is an irregularly egg-shaped and slightly compressed large fleshy drupes. It varies in size, shape, color, presence of fiber, flavor, taste and several other characters depending on variety. The fruits grow at the end of a long, string-like stem (the former panicle), with sometimes two or more fruits to a stem.The fruit ranges from 6.25-25 cm in length and from a few grams to 1.8-2.26 kg. The skin is leathery, waxy, smooth, fairly thick, aromatic and ranges from light-or dark-green to clear yellow, yellow-orange, yellow and reddish-pink, or more or less blushed with bright-or dark-red or purple-red, with fine yellow, greenish or reddish dots, and thin or thick whitish, gray or purplish bloom, when fully ripe. There is great variation in the form, size, color and quality of the fruits. Fruit may be nearly round, oval, ovoid-oblong, or somewhat kidney-shaped, often with a beak at the apex, and are usually more or less lop-sided depending on variety (Figure 8). The immature fruit has green skin that gradually turns yellow, orange, purple, red, or combinations of these colors as the fruit matures. Mature fruit has a characteristic fragrance and a smooth, thin, tough skin. The flesh of a mango is peach-like and juicy, with more or less numerous fibers radiating from the husk of the single large kidney-shaped seed. Fibers are more pronounced in fruits grown with hard water and chemical fertilizers. The flavor is pleasant and rich and high in sugars and acid. The flesh may vary in quality from soft, sweet, juicy and fiber-free in high-quality selected (clonal) varieties to turpentine-flavored and fibrous in unselected (wild) seedlings. This flesh is rich in vitamins A, C and D. The mango flesh is sometimes astringent (turpentine-like), and can have fibers extending from the endocarp (stone). The acrid juice, with turpentine like smell, present in the stalk or sometimes in the fruits, is due to myrcene and ocimene.
Some undesirable seedlings or varieties are described as possessing a turpentine-like off-taste. The fruit is longitudinally ribbed, pale yellowish-white, somewhat woody stone, flattened, oval or kidney-shaped, sometimes rather elongated has one seed that is flattened and sticks to the flesh. It may have along one side a beard of short or long fibers clinging to the flesh cavity, or it may be nearly fibreless and free. The quality of the fruit is based on the scarcity of fiber and minimal turpentine taste.
(a) Mango fruit [Diagram]
(b) . Mango fruits
Each mango has a single compressed-ovoid seed encased in a stony endocarp, varying in size/shape with two fleshy cotyledons. The seed is large, flattened, kidney-shaped central stone contains one or more large, starchy embryos, producing several seedlings that are identical but not always true to the parent type and can constitute up to 20% of fruit weight. It is impossible to distinguish true-to-type from zygotic seedlings from the same fruit. Some seedlings produce numerous tiny, parthenocarpic fruits (fruit development without fertilization) which fail to develop and abort. Each seed contains either one embryo (the so-called mono-embryonic cultivars) or more than one embryo (the so-called polyembryonic cultivars), producing several seedlings without fertilization pollination. Most of the seedlings will be nucellar (non-zygotic embryos produced from nucellar tissue – clones of the mother tree) as seedlings which have originated vegetatively, they are mostly true-to-type and genetically identical with the mother tree (Figure 9a, 9b). Most Indian cultivars are mono-embryonic, while generally cultivars fromIndonesia,Thailand and thePhilippines are polyembryonic.
The crop is considered mature when the shoulder of the fruit broadens (fills out) and some fruits on the tree have begun to change color from green to yellow. Prior to this external color break, the fruit is considered mature when the flesh near the seed changes color from white to yellow.
Mangoes should be picked before they are fully ripe, at which time they soften and fall. The fruit bruises easily and must be handled carefully to avoid damage. They are ripened at room temperature and then refrigerated. Mature mangoes keep fairly well under refrigeration for two to three weeks at 10 to 13 º C.
- Diczbalis, Y., Wicks, C. and Landrigan, M. (1997). Heat sums to predict fruit maturity in mango (cv. Kensington Pride). Draft report for HRDC FR605 NTDPI&F.
- Johnson, P.R. and Robinson, D.R. (1997). An evaluation of mango (Mangifera indica L.) cultivars and their commercial suitability for theKimberley. Department of Agriculture. 21/97 ISSN 1326-4168 Agdex 234/34.
- Morton, J. 1987. Mango. p. 221–239. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton,Miami,FL.
- P.R. Johnson and D. Parr. Mango growing in Western Australia. Bulletin 4348
- Maxwell, Lewis S. and Betty M. Maxwell. Florida Fruit. Lewis S. Maxwell, Publisher. 1984. pp. 61-63
- Samson, J. A. Tropical Fruits. 2nd ed. Longman Scientific and Technical. 1986. pp. 216-234.
- Sherrard, J., Johnson, P.R. and Luke, G. (1997). Mango irrigation requirements for the Broome and Ord irrigation areas of Western Australia. Department of Agriculture. Draft report.
- Sites on Mango
- Subtropical/Trop. Fruit Crops Database: http://www.agnic.nal.usda.gov/agdb/stropfc.html
- Mango Produce Facts Linked from the Postharvest Outreach Program, UC Davis
- Mango Overview, Propagation, And Agroforestry Uses Linked from Cornell University
- All About Mangoes
- Mango Fruit Facts and Mango Publications Courtesy of California Rare Fruit Growers.
- Mango Information Linked from NewCrops, Purdue University.
- Mango Tip Burn And Sunburn Images Linked from Texas A & M.
- Mango Production Regions Linked from the Dept. of Agronomy, U.C. Davis
- Mango-Research and Development A site on various aspects related to manoes
- Mango recipes, history, varieties etc — http://freshmangoes.com. or http://freshmangoes.com/mangonews/
- Mango Index Linked Information Mango Produce Facts
- Mango Food Resource (http://osu.orst.edu/food-resource/index.html) Oregon State University, Corvallis
- Postharvest Handling of Pickling Mango
- Mango an introductory description http://www.safari.net/~lychee/mango.htm
- Mangoes – Preparation and nutrition information – Preparation, cooking, and nutritional information for Mangoes
- Mango Botanical Description
- Subtropical/Tropical Fruits Menu University of Florida.
- Subtropical/Tropical Fruit Crops National Agriculture Library, USA
- Market Asia – Technical Information (Postharvest and Market Guides) http://www.marketasia.org/tech
- Mango Mania! is page devoted to the king of fruits http://www.delphis.dm/mango.htm