mango (măngˈgō) [key], evergreen tree of the Anacardiaceae (sumac family), native to tropical E Asia and now grown in both hemispheres. The chief species, Mangifera indica, is believed to have been cultivated for about 6,000 years. It was introduced into Brazil by Portuguese colonists. Many horticultural varieties have been developed. The mango tree grows rapidly and may attain a height of 90 ft (27 m) and a spread of 120 ft (37 m). It is densely covered with glossy leaves and bears small, fragrant yellowish or reddish flowers. The fruit, a fleshy drupe, is about 6 in. (15.2 cm) long and has thick greenish to yellowish-red mottled skin, pale yellow to orange-red flesh, and a large seed, the kernel of which is edible when cooked. Mango fruits are luscious, aromatic, and slightly acid. Equivalent in importance to the apple of Europe and N America, they are a vital food source for millions of inhabitants of the tropics. Mangoes are eaten fresh (green or mature), often as a dessert fruit, and are also cooked, dried, and canned. They are used in chutneys, jellies, and jams. The tree is propagated by grafting and budding and to a lesser extent by seed. Mangoes are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Sapindales, family Anacardiaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Plants