Mango is the National Fruit of India. The mango is a fleshy stone fruit belonging to the genus Mangifera, consisting of numerous tropical fruiting trees in the Fruiting plant family Anacardiaceae. The mango is native to India from where it spread all over the world. It is also the most cultivated fruit of the tropical world. While other Mangifera species (e.g. horse mango, M. foetida) are also grown on a more localized basis, Mangifera indica – the common mango or Indian mango – is the only mango tree commonly cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions, and its fruit is distributed essentially worldwide. In several cultures, its fruit and leaves are ritually used as floral decorations at weddings, public celebrations and religious ceremonies.
The English word “mango” originated from the Tamil word “mangai/mankay” or Malayalam “manna” (from the Dravidian root word for the same), via Portuguese (also manga). The word’s first recorded attestation in a European language was a text by Ludovico di Varthema in Italian in 1510, as manga; the first recorded occurrences in languages such as French and post-classical Latin appear to be translations from this Italian text. The origin of the “-o” ending in English is unclear. When mangoes were first imported to the American colonies in the 17th century, they had to be pickled due to lack of refrigeration. Other fruits were also pickled and came to be called “mangoes” (especially bell peppers), and by the 18th century, the word “mango” became a verb meaning “to pickle”.
The mango is generally sweet, although the taste and texture of the flesh varies across cultivars, some having a soft, pulpy texture similar to an overripe plum, while the flesh of others is firmer, like a cantaloupe or avocado, or may have a fibrous texture. For consumption of unripe, pickled or cooked fruit, the mango skin may be consumed comfortably, but has potential to cause contact dermatitis of the lips, gingiva or tongue in susceptible people (see above). Under-ripe mangos can be ripened by placing them in brown paper bags. They will then keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about four or five days. In ripe fruits which are commonly eaten fresh, the skin may be thicker and bitter tasting, so is typically not eaten.