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Mango
 
The mango tree belongs to the genus Mangifera. This genus comprises of a number of species of tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family of Anacardiaceae. Known as the king of fruits, Mango, the name is derived from the Tamil word 'Mangkay' or 'man-gay'. In the 16th century, the Portuguese settlers in Western India adopted the name as 'manga'. The mango tree is mainly cultivated for its fruit, though it is not only the fruit, but many parts of the tree like the leaves, bark, roots, etc., which can be put to some use or the other. The fruit is famous world over for its food, juice, flavour, colour and fragrance. The leaves of the mango tree are considered auspicious by many Indian communities and are often used as decorations at weddings and other religious ceremonies.

The mango tree reaches to a height of about 35-40 m I.e approximately 65ft. and has a crown radius of about 10m. The leaves are of the evergreen variety and orange-pink when the tree is young, and change to the dark glossy red, when they start maturing and as they mature, the colours of the leaves turn dark green. The trees flower with white coloured flowers having a lily like fragrance. Once the flowering gets over, the tree bears fruits, which take 3 to 6 months to ripen. 

The raw mango is generally green in colour, though the ripe variety is available in a number of colours including yellow, orange, red or purple. The ripe mangoes when peeled exude a sweet smell, which makes the taste but water. The centre of the fruit has a single seed, which is oblong and flat.
 
Growing Mangoes

The mango trees grow large in size and are shade providing dense trees, whose roots are not destructive. In winters, the tree requires full sun and a perfect air drainage. When grown on the slopes, care should be taken that it is grown at the top or middle level of the slope, and a wind break needs to be provided on the exposed areas. In the desert, the mango tree needs the shade of other plants. When grown in the greenhouse, free air movement and full light are mandatory in order to prevent the tree from diseases.

The mango tree grows well in almost all types of well drained soil, but it is advisable to avoid heavy, wet soils. the preferred pH balance of the soil need to be anywhere between 5.5 to 7.5. The tree is also tolerant to alkalinity. To ensure good growth of the tree, mango tree should be grown in deep soil, as it needs space to accommodate its extensive roots.

Irrigation needs to be provided to the trees, once the weather warms up a bit. The right time for irrigation varies in different regions, for example at the coastal regions, the trees need to be irrigated in April, whereas in the desert, irrigation is required in February. Watering is necessary on a regular basis to maintain the moisture of the soil, and should be continued till the fruit is harvested.

A nitrogen fertilizer is essential when growing mangoes, to ensure a healthy flower production. Other micronutrients like iron are also added to facilitate a good harvest. it should be noted that the tree must not be fertilized after mid-summer. Organic fertilizers are also a good option. Care should be maintained as to not to over fertilize the tree, as it would cause irreparable damage to it. Sandy soils require more fertilizer than the clay or loom soil.

The trees also need pruning, as it helps promote healthy and uniform growth. Young trees are susceptible to frost attack, and should be covered with an over head shade during any frost threat. Do not prune the dead parts until the frost threat is completely over.
 

Mango and Its Varied Food Uses

  • Mango is best eaten raw. The sweet fruit can be consumed all in itself or can be mixed in salads and cereal to enhance the their taste. The pulp of the fruit is juicy and is full of innumerable fibers.
  • Mangoes are often used to make chutneys, which may be prepared from either raw or sweet mangoes
  • In India, processed mango layers called "ampapad" are often sold in local markets
  • In many parts of India, the mango juice fresh from the mangoes is often eaten with "Puris"
  • Raw mangoes are used to make pickles, which are an excellent accompaniment with any Indian food item
  • Dried strips of sweet, ripe mango are also popular, with those from Cebu and are exported worldwide
  • A variety of things like juices, smoothies, ice cream, fruit bars, raspados, aguas frescas, pies and sweet chili sauce, or mixed with chamoy, a sweet and spicy chili paste, are made from this wonderful fruit
  • In many regions of South-east Asia, mangoes are very popular pickled with fish sauce and rice vinegar
  • Dried unripe mango is used as a spice and is known as amchur (sometimes spelled amchoor) in India.
 

Mango Facts

Mangoes have been grown on the Indian Sub-continent since time immemorial. They are believed to have originated in  East India, Burma and the Andaman Islands bordering the Bay of Bengal. It was in the 5th century BC that the Buddhist monks first took the mangoes to Malaysia and eastern Asia. According to a legend, Buddha is believed to have found tranquility in a mango groove. The traders from Persia took the mango trees to the Middle Eastern countries and Africa. It was from here that the Portuguese took them to Brazil and the West Indies. It was in the 1830's that the mango cultivars arrived in Florida and California.

Hundreds of varieties of the fruit are now grown world over, throughout the tropical and the sub tropical world. India is the leading producer of mangoes followed by Mexico and China. It is also grown in Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, Brazil, Philippines and Haiti.

 

Mango Varieties

Many cultivars of the fruit exist, and most of them are a result of cross-pollination. Alphonso or Hapoos, as it is popularly called, cultivated majorly in Maharashtra, is the most popular variety. It is an export quality mango. Some other cultivars include Kesar, found in Gujarat, Dasheri, the highly aromatic mangoes found in Uttar Pradesh, Langra variety in varanasi, Bombai from Bihar, Baganpalli/Benishan, Maldah from Bihar and West Bengal, Kuini from West malaysia, Tommy Atkins from USA, R2E2 variety from Australia, etc. are some of the most well known varieties worldwide.

 
Health Benefits of Eating Mangoes
Mango is associated with many health benefits, which may be listed as follows:
  • As a rich source of Iron, mangoes are a must have for pregnant women and anemic patients. Regular consumption of mangoes by pregnent womwn ensures the proper development of the fetus
  • Mangoes contain phenolic compounds, which are rich in anti-oxidants, which help in fighting cancer
  • If consumed on a regular basis, mangoes help to combat acidity and ensure proper bowel movement, thereby making the digestive system strong
  • Mango is a rich source of vitamin A, E and Selenium, which help to protect against heart disease and other such related ailments
  • Mango is also an effective remedy to remove clogged pores of the skin
  • Research has shown that eating mangoes can help you get relief from  Kidney related problems including nephritis
  • Eating mangoes also provides relief from respiratory problems, fever, constipation, etc.