Indigenous mango tree with smaller mango fruits
Scientific name: Mangifera indica,
Mangifera indica is a large evergreen tree to 20m tall with a dark green, umbrella-shaped crown. Trunk stout, 90cm in diameter; bark brown, smooth, with many thin cracks; thick, becoming darker, rough and scaly or furrowed; branch-lets rather stout, pale green and hairless. Inner bark light brown and bitter. A whitish latex exudes from cut twigs and a resin from cuts in the trunk.
Overcooked and pounded leaves make a plaster to remove warts and also act as a styptic. Seeds are used to treat stubborn colds and coughs, obstinate diarrhoea and bleeding piles.
Mango is cultivated for the fruit, which can be eaten in 3 distinct ways, depending largely on the cultivar: unripe, ripe, and processed. The fruit is surrounded by golden, juicy flesh, rich in vitamins A and C. The green fruit is also used to flavour fish and meat dishes. Young leaves are cooked as a vegetable. Heartwood is pale yellowish-brown to reddish-brown, darkening on exposure, not clearly demarcated from the pale yellowish-brown sapwood. The wood is used for many purposes, including indoor construction, meat-chopping blocks, furniture, carpentry, flooring, boxes, crates and boat building. The bark is the source of a yellowish-brown dye used for silk. Its umbrella-shaped crown makes the mango tree a suitable shade for people and their livestock; it also acts as a firebreak.
Mango leaves improve soil fertility when used as mulch for crops. Mangaifera indica is an important honey plant, secreting large quantities of nectar.
Seeds are a by-product of processing; they can be used as feed for cattle and poultry.
The optimal climate for growing mango ranges from the monsoon tropics to the frost-free subtropics, with a marked dry, or cool, season of at least three months to promote flowering. It succeeds at any elevation up to about 1,200 metres, but for commercial purposes 600 metres is the maximum elevation and grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 24 - 30°c, but can tolerate 8 - 48°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 1,500mm, but tolerates 300 - 2,600mm. Plants are not too fussy over soil, not needing very fertile conditions. However, they crop better in a rich, well-drained soil.