Tree of the Week: Mango (Mangifera indica)
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Juicy, sweet and yummy Mango!
Juicy, sweet, yummy! Mango is a treat to people all over the world and Vincentians are no different. One good friend to Richmond Vale Academy (RVA) told us about how, when he was a boy, he and his friends would get out of school and race down to the nearest mango tree to collect the good fruit before it was gone. When it is in season here in Saint Vincent (SVG), one is hard-pressed to find a fruit that is more popular than the mango.
The mango tree is a member of the Evergreen family. Then, it can grow to be up to 90 feet tall. Its leaves are about 12-16 inches in length when they are mature and are leathery, glossy and dark green in color.
The fruit has a smooth, tough outside layer and fleshy, juicy inside layer that is very sweet. It can vary in size, shape and flavor depending on the variety and weighs anywhere between ¼ of a pound and 3 pounds.
The fruit tree was introduced to the Caribbean in the late 1600s from the India-Burma region of the world. In the earlier days of mango cultivation in Saint Vincent. Much of the land near the sea was occupied by British estates and plantations. It was common for people to go up into the mountains to cultivate mango.
Now, if you were to walk into the mountains and come upon a random mango tree growing in the middle of the forest, this just might be how it got there.
Here in Saint Vincent there are two growing seasons for the fruit. Typically the first season starts in January and the other in August. Each season is usually about two months long but last year the seasons ended up overlapping.
They turned into a single eight-month-long season of fruit! There are hundreds of varieties of mango and a fair number of them grow in SVG. Horse, Imperial, and Julie are just three of the many varieties that you’ll find here. Julie is an island favorite because of it sweetness and rich flavor.
The fruit is a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and beta carotene. Its properties can aid in preventing cancer, fighting diabetes, reducing cholesterol and improving digestive, optical, and dermatological health. You can also use the leaves and seeds in tea for treating a number of ailments including diarrhea, swelling and pain.
In addition to its health benefits the mango makes an important contribution to ecology. Planting mango is great for improving soil health and reducing erosion. It also helps to maintain biodiversity by providing habitat for birds and other plant and animal life.
It is for these reasons that the mango is used by farmers around world for intercropping (in addition to the fact that it provides good firewood and animal fodder). The mango is also a drought resistant tree. This means that the presence of the tree increases food and income security for people who live in environmentally volatile areas.
Lastly, the mango’s large canopy and its capacity to absorb water and carbon dioxide makes it useful for cooling and helps to counterbalance the impacts of deforestation and climate change. Then, the mango has many wonderful and useful qualities that are beneficial to the health of ecosystems and people alike!
We invite you to eat this delicious fruit and all the benefits it has to offer!
We also invite you to share this post in your social networks and to leave us a comment telling us your favorite recipe for eating this fruit.