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Mango: a long-lived tree and a "Stakhanovite" producer

Mango belongs to the extensive family of Anacardia or Sumakhov, Pistachio (Anacardiaceae), genus Mango (Mangifera), including 69 plant species. The most popular representative of the genus is Indian mango(Magnifera indica) - a tree that has been cultivated for over 8 thousand years. During this time, it has become the most important agricultural crop in the tropical zone of our planet.

Old mango tree at Jaigar Fort in Jaipur

The homeland of mangoes is considered the border zone of India and Myanmar. In the 7th century BC. mango first left their homeland with the Chinese traveler Hwen Sang and began to develop other territories, three centuries later, Buddhist monks brought mangoes to Malaysia and East Asia. It was brought to the Middle East and East Africa by Persian merchants in the 10th century. In 1742, with Spanish sailors, the mango crossed the island. Barbados and further to Brazil. In 1833, mango appears in the USA, Mexico, South Africa, Australia and the Middle East. Throughout the 19th century, Americans adapted the tree to the conditions of Yucatan and Florida, until in 1900 the persistence of agronomists was rewarded: the first fruits grown in North America went on sale.

Europe learned about the mango thanks to the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great, whose comrades-in-arms described the outlandish fruits. However, their delivery to regions remote from their habitats remained problematic until the advent of steamships.

Mango on Indian counter

In Russia, mango fruits appeared only in the middle of the 20th century. Until recently, this extremely beautiful and useful plant remained aloof from the attentive eyes of exotic plant lovers. Currently, a method for growing small mango trees at home has been developed and described.

Growing only in warm tropical climates, mango never sheds its leaves. The tree reaches 10-45 m in height and 10 m in crown diameter. Varieties with small trees are considered more practical for cultivation on plantations. Note that juicy sweet fruits were obtained by crossing two species - Mangifera indica and Mangifera sylvanica, fruits of wild species are fibrous, small, dryish, with a pronounced smell of turpentine.

Young mango leaves are born, having a reddish color, shades of color can be from yellowish pink to brownish red. Growing up, they become glossy and dark green, with a lighter underside. The leaves are simple, with a pronounced central vein, hanging on petioles thickened at the base, 3-12 cm long. The leaf shape varies from oval to elongated-lanceolate, the leaf length is 15-45 cm and up to 10 cm wide. The foliage smells of turpentine.

The plant loves light and develops quickly. The taproot goes into the ground to a depth of 6 m. Since it is difficult to hold a huge crown with a single taproot, a wide root system with additional deep roots is formed in the tree. So, the root system of a young 18-year-old tree reaches a depth of 1-2 m with a radius of up to 7.5 m.

Mangoes can grow and bear fruit for up to 300 years. In India, there is an old-timer tree with a trunk with a diameter of 3.5 m and branches with a diameter of 75 cm - this tree covers an area of ​​more than 2250 square meters. m and gives annually about 16,000 fruits.

The bark of the tree is dark gray, brown or black, smooth, fissured with age. The branches are smooth, shiny, dark green in color.

During the year, the plant has several periods of active growth. Having reached the age of 6 years, the tree enters the period of maturity, begins to bloom and bear fruit. At home, in India, mango blooms from December in the south to April in the north. During flowering, it releases many conical panicles, each of which contains from several hundred to several thousand small yellowish or pink flowers with a sweet odor similar to that of lilies. The size of each flower is 5-7 mm in diameter.Among the thousands of flowers, most are male (their number can reach 90%), the rest are bisexual. Such an abundance attracts all lovers of pollen and nectar: ​​bats and a wide variety of insects, both flying and crawling, because mango is the best honey plant in the tropics. Despite all the efforts of pollinators, only 1-2 fruits are tied from each panicle, and unpolished flowers fall off. People do not remain indifferent to such an abundance of flowers: Otto essential oil is obtained from mango flowers.

In nature, mango produces a single harvest per year, but in the conditions of cultivated gardens, agronomists achieve two harvests. Here it is worth paying attention to one feature of the mango: each separately taken branch bears fruit in nature in a year, alternating with neighboring ones, so that agronomists force the entire tree to bear fruit, doing it in two passes.

After the non-pollinated flowers fly around, in place of the panicles remain hanging on long petioles, as if on ribbons, 1-2 ovaries with a smooth dense green skin, which mature for 3-6 months.

The size of ripe fruits, depending on the variety, varies from 6 to 25 cm and can weigh up to 2 kg. A typical fruit weighs about 200-400 g. The shape of the fruit is one of the characteristics of the variety, it can be round, oval, ovoid, but almost always asymmetrical when viewed from the side.

The most valuable thing about mango is the sweet pulp. It can be whitish to intense yellow and orange in color, slightly fibrous or homogeneous. Unripe mango fruits contain pectin and a large amount of acids - citric, oxalic, malic and succinic and are used to prepare sour seasonings. The color and smell of ripe fruit are also characteristic of the variety. They are unusually diverse: green, yellow, pink fruits, or with all of the listed colors at once; resemble apricot, melon, lemon, even a rose, or have their own unique pleasant taste and aroma.The stalk of a ripe fruit, when broken, secretes juice, which smells sharply of turpentine and thickens with a darkening drop. Some varieties have a peculiar coniferous flavor and a slight smell of turpentine.

Mango fruits are asymmetrical,different colors and shapes

All mango fruits have one obligatory feature in their structure - the beak. Not the same, of course, as in parrots, but in the form of a small protrusion above the edge of the bone. Considering the asymmetry of the fruit, the beak is located diametrically opposite the peduncle. The severity of the beak is different in different varieties, from a small outgrowth to a point on the skin.

The mango fruit always has

A flat, elongated, ribbed, solid bone of white-yellow color is hidden inside the fruit, similar to the shell of the familiar freshwater mollusk - pearl barley, which is often found in the rivers of the middle lane.

The cut mango resembles a clamMango bone covered with fibers

The shell and bone are close even in size - about 10 cm, only the bone is flatter. It is usually densely covered with fibers and has a characteristic "beard" along the rib, to which the pulp is attached.

The hairiness of the bone is clearly visible on the lateral cut of the mango fruit

In some varieties, it is smooth and easily leaves the pulp. Inside the seed there is a dicotyledonous flat seed, which can be mono- or polyembryonic, giving, respectively, one or more shoots. The size of the seeds is from 5 to 10 cm. Inside the seed, the seed is partially covered by a dense, parchment-like brown membrane.

Mango seed in bone

The part of the seed, uncovered by the membrane, is white. If we make a thin longitudinal section of the part under the membrane, we will find an oval spot of gray-brown color with dark veins.

Mango seedTwo mango seed cotyledons
Cross section of mango seedLongitudinal section of a mango seed

The ripeness of the fruit is determined by the ease of removal of the stalk and the specific fruity smell of its break. In order to avoid birds pecking at ripe fruits, the crop is usually harvested slightly unripe and left to ripen in a dark place. The removed fruits must be washed, removing traces of juice from the stalk or damaged peel, because the juice, dries up, leaves blackening traces and damages the peel, after which the fruit rots in places of blackening.It should be remembered that fresh juice from the cut skin of the fruit is irritating to human skin. Contact with a fresh cut can result in chemical burns. People prone to allergies should be especially careful.

The seeds of ripe fruits are suitable for reproduction, but in the conditions of cultivation of varietal crops, mangoes are usually propagated by grafting, which allows you to preserve all the characteristics of the variety. And trees grown from seeds are used as a rootstock. The grafted trees begin to bear fruit in the 1-2nd year, while in nature the first fruits appear in the 6th year, and the tree reaches its full yield only after 15 years. The average yield of mangoes is 40-70 centners per hectare.

A planting site is chosen with good drainage, which is vital for mangoes. Fat soil for the tree is not needed, because it stimulates continuous vegetative growth to the detriment of flowering and yield. Mango adapts well to various soils: sandy (as in Thailand, Egypt and Pakistan), rocky (as in India, Spain and Mexico) and even saline limestone, as in Israel.

An unpretentious attitude to the composition of the soil allowed the plant to expand its distribution area, which over time occupied the entire tropical belt of the Earth. Now mangoes are grown even in Australia, but India is still the main supplier of mango fruits to the world market. The foundation of mango production in India was laid in the second half of the 16th century by the ruler of the Mughal dynasty - Jalal ad-din Akbar (1556-1605). He planted the Lag Bach garden of 100,000 mango trees on the Ganges plain. Now mango occupies 70% of the area of ​​all orchards in India and its annual harvest is more than 2 million tons.

Mango plantation in the Mughal gardens of Pingjor

For 8000 years of cultivation, the tree-feeder was overgrown with legends and became sacred among people professing Buddhism and Hinduism. In Hinduism, mangoes are considered one of the incarnations of the god Prajayati - the Creator of All That Is. Buddhist legend says that Buddha, having received a mango fruit as a gift from the god Amradarik, ordered his disciple to plant a seed and watered it, washing his hands over it. At this place, the sacred mango tree grew and began to bear fruit, generously presenting its fruits to others.

Indian god Ganesha (postcard)

In Hinduism and Buddhism, the ripe mango fruit is a symbol of achievement, love and prosperity. Often the mango fruit is depicted in the hands of the god Ganesha, and the goddess Ambika is sitting under a mango tree. It is believed that Shiva raised and presented mangoes to his beloved wife Parvati, therefore, the mango fruit, as a guarantee of prosperity and protection of the gods, is customary to nail to the foundation of a newly built house.

As a crop, mangoes are also grown in Brazil, Mexico, Florida and Hawaii, China, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, Egypt and Pakistan. Thailand is next after India in terms of mango exports, followed by Brazil, Pakistan and other countries.

What is the difference between mangoes and fruits of the middle strip? Mango pulp consists of 76-80% water, contains 11-20% sugars, 0.2-0.5% acids, 0.5% protein. Nutritionists note the usefulness of the fruit as a dietary product: 100 g contains only 70 kcal, but the fruit is unusually rich in carotene, which is 5 times more in mango than in oranges. In addition, mango contains a whole complex of vitamins - C, B1, V2, V3, V6, V9, D, E - and microelements - K, Ca, Mg, P.

Over the years of use, a person has learned to extract the most useful from any part of the plant and mango fruit.

The leaves and bark contain mangiferin, a substance known as Indian yellow that is used in the pharmaceutical and paint industries. When a small amount of mango leaves are eaten, the urine of sacred cows becomes bright yellow, and fabrics are dyed with it. But it is impossible to use mango foliage as feed. This leads to the death of the animal.

Recently, another seed-derived product has been discovered, mango butter, which is close to cocoa butter and shea butter in consistency.It is used in the confectionery industry as a substitute for cocoa butter. The only difficulty at the present time is its small amount and high cost, due to manual collection and peeling of the seeds. So far, this promising area of ​​use is in its infancy.

Laminated mango wood can range in color from gray to greenish brown. Despite the moisture resistance and ease of processing, furniture is not made of it, since it contains substances that irritate the respiratory tract. For the same reason, wood is never used for firewood, because smoke is also irritating. The culprit behind all of these restrictions is the essential oil containing mangiferol and mangiferin. Mango wood is used to make parts of load-bearing structures for roofs of wooden houses, boats, plywood and containers for transporting cans with canned food.

In India, they learned to use mango fruits at any stage of their development. Unripe ones go to salads and stews, those who are starting to ripen are used as vegetables and a side dish for fish and meat, somewhat unripe ones - for pickles, marinades and sauces, and ripe ones - as fruits and for making jams, marmalades and drinks.

Unripe mango fruit

There is another important area of ​​use: mango powder is found in such well-known condiments as chutney, curry and amchur. Dried mango slices powder is widely used in Indian cuisine. It is added to dishes to obtain a peculiar sour taste. When using mango powder, remember that it is highly flammable and do not spill it near an open flame.

Mango Recipes: Fruit skewers with honey sauce, Mango Amba sauce, Cold mango tea, Original salad with mango and cucumber, Mango sauce, Brazilian soup with mango, pumpkin, shrimp and ginger, Fruit mint soup, Mango and cardamom lassi with yogurt, Festive salad of carrots and mango, Salad of mango and avocado, Green mango salad, Piquant mango sauce, Mango with tomatoes in orange sauce, Exotic salad with tequila.

Lacking modern medicines, people for centuries have thoroughly studied all the beneficial properties of mango and learned how to use it as a medicinal plant.

A decoction of the leaves is used to treat diabetes and increase blood clotting.

The juice and pulp of the fruit help to increase resistance to viral infections, reduce the rate of keratinization of the skin and heal "night blindness" when a person cannot see at dusk, due to the high content of carotenoids. The complex of vitamins with carotene helps prevent the development of cancer of the digestive system and enhances immunity.

Freshly squeezed juice treats dermatitis, bronchitis and cleanses the liver. The peel of the fruit has an astringent and tonic effect on the stomach.

Mango as a medicinal plant can serve as a panacea for many diseases, if you know how and which parts of the plant should be used to obtain antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, anti-asthma, antiviral and anthelmintic effects.

Now there are about 600 varieties of mango, adapted to different conditions, of which only about 35 are widely grown. Each variety is characterized by the shape and size of the tree, duration and ripening time, shape, color, size and taste of the fruit. The most famous varieties in India are Alphons and Bombay with large, sweet, aromatic fruits without a specific aftertaste. In South India, crops are harvested from January to May. From here we get the varieties: Pairi, Neelam, Totapuri, Banganpalli, etc. Later - from June to August - mango also bears fruit in the northern states of India.

Let's give as an example the characteristics of several varieties.

  • Baileys Marvel: Fast growing, cold hardy tree with a round, dense crown. The fruit is bright yellow with a peach barrel, large, ripens in July-September.The pulp of the fruit is firm, sweet, practically devoid of fibers.
  • Julie: Popular in Jamaica, imported to Florida from Thailand. Dwarf tree suitable for container growing. The fruit is yellow-green with a pink barrel, medium, flattened from the sides, ripens in July-August. The pulp is tender, creamy.
  • Malika: One of the finest Indian varieties. Fast growing compact tree suitable for container growing. The fruit is bright yellow, medium, ripens in July-August. The pulp of the fruit is orange, firm, juicy, with a pronounced aroma.

Since 1987, the annual International Mango Festival has been held in the capital of India at the end of summer. At the festival, more than 50 mango producers exhibit their products in search of new contracts with processing plants and exporters in 80 countries. The festival features over 550 different varieties of mangoes from all over the world. Here you can hear songs and poems about mangoes, treat you with exquisite mango dishes and fresh fruits, entertain the audience with contests and shows with the indispensable use of mangoes.

Mango is a fruit tree that has been known to man for 8000 years. For such a long time, people have learned to use not only the edible pulp of the fruit, but also the bark, wood, flowers and leaves of the generous tree. Despite such a long history, Europeans and Americans got acquainted with the fruits of mango only about a century ago, but during this short period of time mango has won sincere recognition as a wonderful dietary fruit that always opens a new shade of taste. Ahead of Europeans are new discoveries in the use of mango as a vegetable, aromatic seasoning and medicinal plant.

Read How to grow mango from seed.

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