Know Your Islands
Mangoes belong to the genus Mangifera, which consists of about 30 species of tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae.
The mango is native to Southern and Southeast Asia including the Philippines, India, and Burma owing to fossil records dating back 25 to 30 million years.
The mango hangs from the tree on long stems. The ripe fruit is variably coloured yellow, orange and red, reddest on the side facing the sun and yellow where shaded; green usually indicates that the fruit is not yet ripe, but this depends on the cultivar.
An oblong seed that is as big as a large stone is in the centre of the fruit. It can be fibrous or hairless on the surface, depending on cultivar.
The following is taken from Wild Trees in the Cayman Islands by Fred Burton, with illustrations by Penny Clifford; Photographs by Frank Roulstone.
The Mango is a large, spreading tree, easily recognized by its large, long and slender leaves, which are flushed with red in young foliage.
The stout trunk is often hollow, supported by spreading roots.
Old branch attachments remain visible as dome shaped calluses. Dying leaves turn yellow before they fall, and the flower stalks are pinkish red.
The bark sheds slowly in large, rough, woody flakes. Firm areas are also rough, with a complex pattern of small ridges and lumps. Younger bark is variable colonized by pale grey and pink lichens.
Originally native to India, the Mango is grown throughout the tropics for its delicious fruits, which are available in many different cultivars.
In all three of flavoured fruits has remained established in old abandoned farmlands, and its seeds are probably spread by Agoutis.
It is however restricted to areas with soil, as this tree is not well able to survive in Cayman’s characteristic rocky woodland zones. It may fruit twice in a year if rainfall is plentiful.
As well as being eaten fresh, mangoes in Cayman are used to make jellies, and can be dried to eat after the fruiting season.
They are also sometimes fed to cows. Popular varieties now widespread, such as Julie, Tommy Atkins and Carrie, are readily grafted onto the rootstock of this hardy wild type Mango.
Grow Cayman Plants and encourage Cayman Wildlife! For more information, to share your knowledge or if you would like to get involved with the many activities in the National Trust’s Know Your Islands Program, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.ky, www.caymanwildlife.org or call 949-0121. The weekly column from the National Trust is submitted by Marnie Laing, Education Programs Manager at the Trust.
Last week’s answer: Banana Birds or Bananaquits eat mainly nectar from flowers of plants but it also takes insects and fruits from trees, including Logwood, Buttonwood and Pop-nut.
Trivia question: What is Shake Hand?
Look for the answer in next week’s feature!