Fruit Facts from
California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
© 1996, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
Mangifera indica L.
Names: Mango, Mangot, Manga, Mangou.
Related species: Bindjai (Mangifera caesia), Horse Mango (M. foetida), Kuweni mango (M. odorata).
Distant affinity: Cashew (Anacardium occidentale), Gandaria (Bouea gandaria), Pistachio (Pistacia vera), Marula (Sclerocarya birrea), Ambarella (Spondias cytherea), Yellow Mombin (S. mombin), Red Mombin (S. purpurea), Imbu (S. tuberosa).
The mango is native to southern Asia, especially Burma and eastern
India. It spread early on to Malaya, eastern Asia and eastern Africa.
Mangos were introduced to California (Santa Barbara) in 1880.
The mango exists in two races, one from India and the other from the
Philippines and Southeast Asia. The Indian race is intolerant of
humidity, has flushes of bright red new growth that are subject to
mildew, and bears monoembryonic fruit of high color and regular form.
The Philippine race tolerates excess moisture, has pale green or red
new growth and resists mildew. Its polyembryonic fruit is pale green
and elongated kidney-shaped. Philippines types from Mexico have proven
to be the hardiest mangos in California.
Mangos basically require a frost-free climate. Flowers and small fruit
can be killed if temperatures drop below 40° F, even for a short
period. Young trees may be seriously damaged if the temperature drops
below 30° F, but mature trees may withstand very short periods of
temperatures as low as 25° F. The mango must have warm, dry weather
to set fruit. In southern California the best locations are in the
foothills, away from immediate marine influence. It is worth a trial in
the warmest cove locations in the California Central Valley, but is
more speculative in the coastal counties north of Santa Barbara, where
only the most cold adapted varieties are likely to succeed. Mangos
luxuriate in summer heat and resent cool summer fog. Wet, humid weather
favors anthracnose and poor fruit set. Dwarf cultivars are suitable for
culture in large containers or in a greenhouse.
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., but usually half that size in
California. 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.
The leaves are dark green above and pale below, usually red while
young. The midrib is pale and conspicuous and the many horizontal veins
distinct. Full-grown leaves may be 4 to 12-1/2 in. long and 3/4 to 2
in. wide, 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.
The yellowish or reddish flowers are borne in inflorescences which
appear at branch terminals, in dense panicles of up to 2000 minute
flowers. These flowers respire a volatile substance, causing allergic
and respiratory problems for some persons. Pollinators are flies,
hoverflies, rarely bees. Few of the flowers in each inflorescence are
perfect, so most do not produce pollen and are incapable of producing
fruit. Pollen cannot be shed in high humidity or rain. Fertilization is
also ineffective when night temperatures are below 55° F. Mangos
are monoecious and self-fertile, so a single tree will produce fruit
without cross pollination. Polyembryonic types may not require
pollination at all. Branches may be ringed to induce flowering, but the
results are mixed.
The fruits grow at the end of a long, stringlike stem (the former
panicle), with sometimes two or more fruits to a stem. The fruits are 2
to 9 inches long and may be kidney shaped, ovate or (rarely) round.
They range in size from 8 ounces to around 24 ounces. The flower scar
at the apex is prominent, in some cultivars bulging from the fruit. The
leathery skin is waxy and smooth, and when ripe entirely pale green or
yellow marked with red, according to cultivar. It is inedible and
contains a sap that is irritating to some people. The quality of the
fruit is based on the scarcity of fiber and minimal turpentine taste.
flesh of a mango is peachlike 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 seed may either have a single embryo, producing one seedling,
or polyembryonic, producing several seedlings that are identical but
not always true to the parent type. It is impossible to distinguish
true-to-type from zygotic seedlings from the same fruit. Some seedlings
produce numerous tiny, parthenocarpic fruits which fail to develop and
abort. Mango trees tend to be alternate bearing.
The mango grows to a good size and casts a dense shade, but the roots
are not destructive. It requires full sun and perfect air drainage in
winter. It does best at the top or middle level of a slope. A windbreak
should be provided in exposed areas. The trees may also need staking.
In the desert it needs the shade of other trees; or plant on the north
side of the house. In the garden or near the coast, plant against a
south wall, or in an area surrounded by paving, to provide maximum
heat. In the greenhouse, full light and free air movement are important
to avoid disease.
Mangos will grow in almost any well-drained soil whether sandy, loam or
clay, but avoid heavy, wet soils. A pH between 5.5 and 7.5 is
preferred. They are somewhat tolerant of alkalinity. For good growth,
mangos needs a deep soil to accommodate their extensive root systems.
Irrigation should start when the weather warms: February in the desert,
April at the coast. Continue every one to two weeks, more often in
light soils, nearly continuously in the desert, until the fruit is
harvested. Irrigation may be discontinued when rains are sufficient to
maintain soil moisture. In the greenhouse keep watered until the fruit
is harvested, then reduce to the minimum required to avoid wilting.
Watering is then increased after one to two months to initiate a new
bloom and growth cycle.
Mango trees require regular applications of nitrogen fertilizer to
promote healthy growth flushes and flower production. Chelated
micronutrients, especially iron, are also often necessary. A feeding
program similar to one used for citrus is satisfactory, but do not
fertilize after midsummer. Organic fertilizers perform best, since the
trees are subject to fertilizer burn. Young trees are particularly
sensitive to over-fertilizing, but respond well to fish emulsion. Sandy
soils require more fertilizer than loam or clay.
Healthy trees require little pruning, although pruning to stimulate new
growth promotes uniform annual bearing. Removing some flower clusters
during a heavy bloom year may also alleviate alternate bearing. Mangos
may be pruned to control size in late winter or early spring without a
loss of fruit. Sap and debris can cause severe dermatitis, similar to
poison oak. It is best to avoid burning prunings or litter.
During the first two years, the trees should be given some protection
such as an overhead cover during any frost threat. Once the tree is 3
to 4 feet high, overhead protection is difficult but still worthwhile,
especially if an unusual cold snap is predicted. Frost damage can also
be avoided by erecting an overhead lath shelter, orchard heating,
placing lights under the canopy, or using foam or straw trunk wraps. Do
not prune dead parts until all frost danger is past.
Seedlings are a gamble. Supermarket fruits may have been treated to
sterilize, or chilled too long to remain viable. These seeds are
normally discolored gray. To grow mangos from seed, remove the husk and
plant the seed (before it dries out) with the hump at soil level. The
seeds normally germinate in two to four weeks, and do best with bottom
Multiple polyembryonic seedlings should be carefully
separated as soon as they have sprouted so not to loose the cotyledons.
Seedling mangos will bloom and bear in three to six years.
success at grafting can be obtained in April and September, but better
luck is more likely during May through August. Small plants with a
diameter of a pencil graft well with the common whip graft. On larger
trees the crown groove bark graft allows several scions to be put on at
once. Fully grown trees may be topworked by crown or groove bark graft,
or prune hard and whip graft sprouts later. Plastic bagging with a few
drops of moisture improves the graft's chances of being successful.
in the second year, using cleft, side or tongue (splice) graft in
midsummer. Scion and stock should be swelling for a new flush of
growth. Grafts are most successful if the leaves are allowed to remain
below the graft, but remove suckers. Use pencil-sized scions of hard
wood with three or four nodes. Cover with loose punctured white paper
bag for shade.
If top working, do not dehorn the entire tree at
one time; leave at least two fully leafed branches intact. Marcottage
is feasible in humid climates or greenhouses, but results in few
plants. Although budding is rare in California; it can be done by using
a shield bud in an inverted T, at the moment the tree begins a new
growth flush. Cuttings are rarely successful, although experiments have
shown that rooting may be improved by treating with ethylene, which
destroys the root-inhibiting hormone in the cambium.
is a suitable and productive tree for growing in a container or
greenhouse. Start with established plants of named cultivars. Select
the finest Indian cultivars, which are most rewarding for the effort
involved. A large tub is required, with casters for easy moving. In the
greenhouse, the atmosphere should be kept dry as possible to avoid
Place a fan nearby to move the air around trees and
use ventilators. The plants should be hosed down in the morning on a
weekly basis to control mites. A regular spraying of appropriate
pesticides for anthracnose and mealybug may also be needed.
location of the intended planting will dictate the choice of cultivars.
Seedlings selected under California conditions have provided cultivars
suitable for coastal counties. Florida cultivars are generally more
suitable in the desert and Central Valley.
Pests and Diseases:
Scale, mealybugs and mites are frequent pests in the greenhouse and
orchard. In the greenhouse, thrips often turn leaves rusty brown.
Malathion is the conventional spray for insect pests; sulfur works on
mites. Gophers are attracted to the roots. The flower panicles, young
fruit and leaves are subject to powdery mildew (Oidium mangiferae),
especially in rainy weather or frequent fog. A spray of powdered kelp
at bud break will often control it. Sodium bicarbonate and fungicide
sprays are also effective. Trees planted in pavement openings seldom
Bacterial spot (Colletotrichum oleosporides)
distorts and turns developing leaves black and disfigures developing
fruit. Infection may spread to fresh young growth. Anthracnose can be
controlled with bimonthly applications of copper spray or captan as a
growth flush begins, and until the flowers open. Resume spraying when
the fruits begin to form. Mango trees are very sensitive to root loss
that can occur from digging, transplanting or gopher damage. "Soft
nose," a physical disorder of shriveling at the fruit apex, seems
associated with excessive nitrogen in soil. Exposed fruits sunburn in
Mango fruit matures in 100 to 150 days after flowering. The fruit will
have the best flavor if allowed to ripen on the tree, although
winter-maturing fruits must be ripened indoors in coastal California.
Ripening fruit turns the characteristic color of the variety and begins
to soften to the touch, much like a peach. Commercial marketability
requires 13% dissolved solids (sugars). When the first fruit shows
color on tree, all of that size fruit or larger may be removed; repeat
when remaining fruit colors. Do not store below 50° F.The fruit
ripens best if placed stem end down in trays at room temperature and
covered with a dampened cloth to avoid shriveling. Mangos ripen in June
from January bloom in interior California, and October from April bloom
on the coast. Less time is required to mature greenhouse fruit.
The mango is the apple (or peach) of the tropics, and one of the most
commonly eaten fruits in tropical countries around the world. The fruit
is grown commercially on a small scale in Florida. In California a
large planting in the Coachella Valley has now reached production
stage. The quality of the fruit is generally comparable to Florida
mangos, but has other advantages., i.e. the lack of fruit fly and seed
weevil populations. Mexico, and to a lesser extent Central America, is
a major supplier to U.S. markets today.
San Diego, Jerry Staedeli, 1971. From Hawaiian seed. Tree spreading,
light bearer, according to rootstock affinity. Fruit large (14-18 oz.),
dull yellow covered with red. Early (Oct-Nov). Susceptible to
anthracnose. For coast.
Miami, 1916. Seedling of Sandersha. Tree somewhat dwarf. Fruit medium
to large (10-20 oz.), kidney-shaped, green with yellow shoulder, rather
fibrous. Very late. Resistant to anthracnose. For greenhouse and
Miami, 1910. Seedling of Saigon. Philippine type. Fruit small to
medium, elongated ovate, yellow-green, juicy, flavor acid. Early. For
Philippines. Philippine type. Fruit medium (10 oz.), elongated,
kidney-shaped, light green blushed yellow. Seed very large, flesh
stringy, acid, juicy. Early midseason. For greenhouse.
Delray Beach, Florida, 1940. Seedling of Sophie Fry. Tree dwarf. Fruit
varies from small to 12 oz., regular ovate, green-yellow, fiberless,
flavor high. Early. For foothills, interior and greenhouse.
Cooper (syn. Cooper No. 1 or 3)
Hollywood, Floyd Cooper, 1948. Tree spreading, dense. Fruit large
(16-20 oz.), long, green. Flesh high quality. Late. For foothills.
East Los Angeles, Gilbert Guyenne, 1980. >From seed from Costa Rica.
Fruit small to 10 oz., elongated, flat, pale green, juicy. Very early.
For coast and foothills.
Kelmscott, West Africa, Arnold Doubikin, 1965. Two sibling seedlings of
Kensington pass under this name. Tree dwarf, rounded, slow growing,
fruits in two years from seed. Polyembryonic. Fruit round, large (12-16
oz.), midseason. For coast, foothills, greenhouse.
Pine Island, Florida, 1943. Tree upright. Fruit medium to 12 oz.,
obliquely round, orange with red blush, fiberless, seed often abortive.
Very early. Resistant to anthracnose. For coast.
Vista, Calif., Paul Thomson, 1920s. Indian type. Tree upright, hardy,
vigorous. Monoembryonic. Blooms early. Produces small to medium (8-12
oz.), almost fiberless fruit, green with red blush. Resists mildew,
subject to soft nose. Midseason (Nov-Dec). For foothills.
Miami, Edward Simmons, 1948. Hybrid of Haden X Carabao. Intermediate
between Indian and Philippine forms. Tree dense, compact. Fruit medium
to large, elongated ovate, apex often oblique, yellow green with red
blush. Seed very small, easily removed. Flavor excellent. Early. For
Miami, 1936. Seedling of Brooks. Pat. #451. Tree open, slow. Fruit
medium to large, elongated flattened, yellow with pink blush, flesh
acid. Early. For coast and inland.
Honolulu, Ruth Gouveia, 1946. Tree upright, open, Fruit medium to
large,(10-20 oz.), long ovate, green becoming bright red. Sweet, juicy,
no fiber. Late, uneven ripening. For coast and inland.
Coconut Grove, Capt. Haden, 1910. seedling of Mulgoba. Indian type.
Tree spreading. Fruit large (to 24 oz.), regular ovate, yellow almost
covered with red, flavor mild, little fiber. Early. Susceptible to
anthracnose and alternate bearing, traits imparted to its progeny. For
interior and greenhouse.
Miami, F.D. Irwin, 1945. Seedling of Lippens. Florida's leading local
market cultivar. Tree very small. Fruit medium, 12-16 oz., elongated,
ovate regular in form, orange yellow with deep blush, flesh bland,
fiberless. Mid-season. For foothills, interior, greenhouse.
Trinidad. Tree dwarf, slow growing. Fruit small (6-10 oz.), flat
oblong, obliquely almost two-nosed, orange, rather fibrous, juicy,
sweet. Late. For containers, greenhouse.
Homestead, 1945. Probably seedling of Mulgoba. Fruit large (20-26 oz.),
ovate with slightly oblique apex, green, flesh rich, fiber only around
seed. Resists mildew. Late. For interior. Florida fruiting July Aug.,
sometimes to Sept.
Kensington Pride (syns. Pride of Bowen, Bowen Special)
Bowen, Queensland, 1960s. Generally propagated as seedling strain.
Polyembryonic. Tree rounded, vigorous. Fruit medium to large, almost
round with pink blush. Flavor sweet. Standard Australian mango cv.
Fruit tends to drop at small size. Midseason. For foothills.
Coconut Grove, 1944. Seedling of Brooks. Tree upright. Fruit large
(20-26 oz.), regular ovate, greenish yellow with red shoulder, flesh
rich, fiberless. Late midseason. For interior.
Encinitas, L.L. Bucklew, 1944. Tree dense, low branching. Fruit small
(6-8 oz.), yellow-green with red blush, flesh fairly good. Midseason.
Mexico, a seedling race common in Veracruz state. A seedling strain
from Hawaii. Philippine type. Tree dwarf, dense. Fruit small to 10 oz.,
shaped long, flat, yellow, flavor sharp. Subject to anthracnose. Early
(Oct-Dec), late picked fruit best. For coast and foothills.
Origin Bombay; distinct from ancient cv. Mulgoa. Fruit medium, 16 oz., greenhouse.
La Habra heights, William Ott, 1948. Seedling of Saigon. Tree dwarf.
Fruit medium, to six inches, orange-yellow with pink blush. Season very
Piña (syn. Pineapple)
Mexico, a seedling strain. Philippine type. Tree upright. Fruit small
to 12 oz., shape ovoid, orange yellow. Flavor suggests pineapple. Early
midseason (Nov-Dec). For foothills.
Pirie (syn. Paheri)
India, ancient. Tree broad, spreading. Fruit small (8-10 oz.), almost
round, apex oblique, yellow with red blush. Juicy, fiberless, rich
flavor. Alternate bearing; blooms every 18 months. Early midseason. For
San Diego, Calif., Jerry Staedeli, 1966. Seedling of Sensation. Tree
broad, dense, slow. Fruit size varies from 10-20 oz., shape oblong,
yellow blushed red. Rarely misses a crop. Subject to anthracnose, soft
nose. Long ripening season (Oct-Feb). For coast and foothills.
Miami, 1941. Tree broad, rounded. Fruit small, round with oblique apex,
yellow with red blush, fibers few. Late. For interior.
Vista, Paul Thomson, 1969. Seedling of Edgehill. Tree low, spreading.
Vigor dependent upon rootstock. Fruit medium to large, 6-8 inches,
shape broad oval, green with red blush, fiberless. Subject to
anthracnose, resists mildew, soft nose. Late midseason (Dec-Jan), very
late on coast (Jan-Feb). For coast, foothills, interior, containers.
Thomson (syn. Thomson Large Seedling)
Vista, Paul Thomson, 1966. Manila seedling, polyembryonic. Tree
spreading, vigor dependent upon rootstock. Fruit small to medium, (6-12
oz.), yellow, shape flat, to eight inches. Resists mildew. High fiber
under chemical fertilizer regime. Season early, long
(September-November), ripens well indoors if picked prematurely. For
from a seed planted in the 1920s at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Commercially grown for export in Florida. Tree full, dense. Fruit
medium to large, 16 oz. with thick skin, regular ovate, orange-yellow
covered with red and heavy purple bloom. Firm, juicy, medium fiber,
fair to good quality. Flavor poor when over fertilized and irrigated.
Resists anthracnose. Early, ripens well if picked immature. For
Los Angeles, 1950s, Sr. Villaseñor. Tree dwarf, spreading,
responds to strong rootstock. Fruit medium, to 12 oz., shape ovate,
color greenish yellow, pink blush, flavor mild. Late midseason (Dec
Jan). For coast, foothills.
Winters (syn, M20222, Southland)
Miami, USDA, 1959. Seedling of Ono, Philippine type, polyembryonic.
Tree broad, production variable. Fruit medium, to 14 oz., smaller in
desert, shape half-round, yellow blushed red. Subject to anthracnose,
resists soft nose. Parthenocarpic fruit will reach full size. Season
midseason (Nov-Dec), ripens well if picked immature. For coast,
Lake Worth, 1930. Seedling of Haden. Tree very spreading, open. Fruit
small, 8-12 oz., almost round, apex oblique, yellow with blush, little
fiber. Ripens early. For greenhouse.
California Avocado Society Yearbook. 1940. pp. 7.
Collins. The Mango in Puerto Rico. USDA BPI Bulletin 28, 1903.
Gangolly, S. R. et al. The Mango. New Delhi, Indian Council of Agriculture Research, 1957.
Higgins. The Mango in Hawaii. Honolulu, Hawaii AES Bulletin 12, 1906.
Maxwell, Lewis S. and Betty M. Maxwell. Florida Fruit. Lewis S. Maxwell, Publisher. 1984. pp. 61-63.
Morton, Julia F. Fruits of Warm Climates. Creative Resources Systems, Inc. 1987. pp. 221-237.
K. C. and S. R. Gangolly. Monograph on Classification and Nomenclature
of South Indian Mangos. Madras, Supt. of Government Press, 1950.
Ortho Books. All About Citrus and Subtropical Fruits. Chevron Chemical Co. 1985. pp. 61-64.
Pope, W. T. Mango Culture in Hawaii. Honolulu, Hawaii AES Bulletin 58, 1929.
Popenoe, F. W. The Mango in Southern California. Journal of Economic Botany, vol. 1, pp. 153-200.
Popenoe, W. Pollination of the Mango. USDA Bulletin 542, 1917.
Ruehle, G.D and R.B., Ledlin. Mango Growing in Florida. Univ. of Florida AES Bulletin, 1955.
Samson, J. A. Tropical Fruits. 2nd ed. Longman Scientific and Technical. 1986. pp. 216-234.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Yearbook, 1901, 1907, 1910.
Yee, W. The Manago in Hawaii. Honolulu, Univ. of Hawaii CES Circular 388, 195
Last updated: 3/26/114 by ch