- History and Culture
Mangifera indica, commonly known as mango, is a species of flowering plant in the sumac and poison ivy family Anacardiaceae and is one of the most popular food crops throughout the tropics. Native to the Indian subcontinent, it was introduced to Mauritius during Dutch colonization. Appreciated for its strong aroma, taste, coloration and nutritive value, its fruit has been named the “King of Fruits”. The tree can reach between 10 to 25 meters in height. Its bark ranges from dark brown to black. Its leaves are oblong and pointed, measuring from 15 to 35 centimetres long. Their colour shifts from orange-pink to dark red and eventually to a dark green as they mature.
It is believed that the species was domesticated in India at around 2000 BC. Requiring specific ecological conditions such as well drained soils and warm and dry weather to set fruit, the species is mostly found as scattered individuals in habitats below 300 m but have been known to occur at 600 to 1900 meters above sea level.
Mangifera indica bears reddish-white small flowers for approximately five to six months which allow it to produce fruit. The flowers are arranged in terminal clusters which are 20 to 50 centimetres long. At the end of the flowering season, fruit take three to four months to mature. Although more than 1,000 varieties are known to exist, the fruit is mostly oblong shaped and is attached to a long peduncle. Sizes of fruit and their colour vary according to varieties. Its nucleus contains a large seed covered in fibres.
Its wide range and large number of individuals make it a species of least concern. Although introduced to Mauritius, the mango tree has been naturalized in some areas. It is not currently listed as an Invasive Alien Species. The Mauritius Fruit Bat, Pterois niger is known to enjoy its fruit.
The mango is the national fruit of India and holds a special place in Hindu religious ceremonies and symbolism.