Mangifera Indica (Mango)
Mango trees originated from Myanmar (Burma) and Eastern India, where average annual rainfalls across the regions vary from 1,174mm-11,777mm. By comparison, in Queensland, Bowen’s average rainfall is 892mm and Maryborough’s 1,138mm p.a.
The mango species is mangifera indica from the anacardiaceae family. Pistachio, cashew and poison ivy (which isn’t actually ivy) also belong to the anacardiaceae family.
Mango fruit was imported to Bowen, Qld from India and from the seeds an orchard called ‘Kensington’ was established by the late 1880’s. Kensington Pride or Bowen mangoes now account for approximately 80% of Australian grown varieties.
Mango trees can live over 300 years and there are reports of some still fruiting at that age! However, the average fruit-bearing life of mango trees in Australia is around 40 years.
Whilst grafted trees bear fruit in 3-4 years, seedling trees generally take 5-8 years. Mango trees are self fertile, meaning the seed of its fruit can produce its own fruiting tree.
Mangoes flower in late winter with fruit ready for harvest in summer. In the Wide Bay Burnett region (incorporating Maryborough) harvest is usually early January, a few weeks later than the warmer Bowen region further north.
Mango trees generally have a round form with an average height of 10m, canopy diameter of 9m and trunk diameter of 67cm. They can grow to >35m high if not pruned.
Requirements and Challenges
Mangoes prefer cool dry winters for flowering, dry spring seasons and hot wet summers. Temperatures below 12°C reduce pollination, whilst wet winters encourage anthracnose, a fungus that causes the flowers to turn black and fall off. Trees require maximum sunlight as well as deep, well-drained soil for the extensive root system.
The fruit is attractive to fruit flies, possums and bats. The sap can irritate human skin and the skin of the fruit, causing the fruit to rot, so care must be taken when harvesting.
Mango trees being evergreen are beneficial for shade and windbreaks. Besides the fruit, every part of the tree is used in various parts of Asia:
Kernel oil is used as a moisturiser. Dried kernels are powdered for medicine to treat diarrhoea, or for flour when food is scarce.
Leaves are used to treat diabetes, kidney and gallstones. Ash of burnt leaves is applied to burns. Incidentally, the leaves live for 3-4 years before dropping from the tree.
Peel is a source of pectin.
Bark is used to treat rheumatism, diphtheria and women’s complaints. The tannins are useful in tanning hides or making yellow dye. When combined with turmeric and lime, a rose pink dye results.
Flowers are used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery.
Sap/Gum from the trunk is used for mending crockery, as a substitute for gum arabic or applied to cracks on feet and scabies.
Wood is a hardwood. Timber is used for furniture, ukuleles, veneer and plywood. It is usually golden brown but can have yellow, pink or black streaks and curly or mottled grain patterns.
Mango trees can be a great example of sustainability. Not only is the whole tree usable whilst alive and fruiting, but its wood can be repurposed long after its bearing days have ended.
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